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" ^hat which gives to the leadwork of the Middle 
Ages a "particular charm is that the means they 
employed and the forms they adopted are exactly 
appropriate to the material. Like Carpentry or 
Cabinet worky Plumbing was an art apart which 
borrowed neither from stone nor wood in its design. 
Mediaeval lead was wrought like colossal gold- 
smith's WOrky VIOLLET-LE-DUC. 



Macmillan & Co., London i 

Richard Clay and Sons, Limited 






I. Of Material and Craftsmanship ..... i 

II. An Historical Sketch 5 

III. Of Lead Coverings to Buildings 17 

IV. Of Leaded Spires and Turrets 20 

V. Of Domes 33 

VI. Of Roofs 36 

VII. Of Lead Coffins 40 

VIII. Of Fonts 51 

IX. Of Inscriptions, Etc 65 

X. Of the Decoration of Lead 72 

XI. Of Lead Ornamentation of other Materials 80 

XII. Of Decorative Objects 84 

XIII. Of Lead Glazing 87 

XIV. Of Lead Statues 90 

XV. Of Lead Fountains 112 

XVI. Of Vases and Gate Piers 114 

XVII. Of Finials and Crestings 124 

XVIII. Of Cisterns, etc 131 

XIX. Of Gutters 137 

XX. Of I'lPES and Pipe Heads 139 



1. Egyptian inscribed Tablet 7 

2. Greek Quiver 8 

3. Builder's Plummet 9 

4, 5. Greek Weights 10 

6, 7. Greek Weights 11 

8, 9. Cists From the Kircherian Museum .... 12 

10. Roman Jewelled Cup 14 

11. Spire, Barnstaple 26 

12. Another Spire 27 

13. Turret, Barnard's Inn Hali 29 

14. Calais Belfry 32 

15. Ornaments from Coffins, Constantinople . 41 

16, 17. Cists, British Museum 42 

18, 19. Roman Coffins, British Museum 44 

20 Roman Coffin, British Museum 45 

21. Thirteenth Century Coffin, Temple Church 46 

22,23. Thirteenth Century Coffins, Temple Church 47 

24. Coffin, Winchester 48 

25. At Moissac 49 

26. Vessel, Lewes Museum 52 

27. Font, Brookland, Kent 54 

28. Font, Brookland 55 

29. Font, Edburton, Sussex 57 

30 Font, Walton, Surrey 59 

31. Font, Parham, Sussex 6j 



32. Heart Box of King Richard 67 

33. Inscribed Cross 68 

34. Arms from Bourges 70 

35. Incised Decoration, Bourges 75 

36. Painted Decoration, Bourges 76 

37. Flashings, Bourges 77 

38. A Valance 78 

39, 40. Lead Glazing 88 

41. Ventilating Quarry 89 

42. Statue of Mercury 98 

43. Sun-dial, Temple Gardens 100 

44. Cymbal Player 106 

45. Terminal at Castle Hill 107 

46. Time, Temple Dinsley 108 

47. Vase, Hampton Court 115 

48. From Vase, Hampton Court 116 

49. Vase, Castle Hill 117 

50. Albert Gate 118 

51. Albert Gate 119 

52. Vase, Knole 120 

53. Cupid, Temple Dinsley 121 

54. Sphinx, Syon House 122 

55. Syon House 123 

56. Finial at Lille . 126 

57. Finial at Angers 126 

58. Angers , i23 




60. From Newcastle 130 


62. Cistern, Exeter 133 

63. Cistern, London 134 

64. Cistern, S. Kensington Museum 135 

65. Gutter, Lincoln Cathedral 137 

66. Gutter, Taunton 138 

67. Bramhall, Cheshire 140 

68, 69. Pipe Heads, Haddon Hall . 141 

70. Pipe Head, Haddon 142 

71. Bodleian, Oxford 143 

72. St. John's, Oxford 144 

73. Sherborne 145 

74. Liverpool 145 

75. Ashbourne 146 

76. Haddon i47 



TO none of the processes of modern 
mechanism do more vulgar associations 
cling than to " Plumbing." It is the 
very serviceableness and ductility of lead as a 
material that have brought about the easy and 
familiar contempt with which it is treated. While 
few are more worthy of artistic care no metal is 
more perfectly adaptable to noble use through 
a range of treatments that cannot be matched 
by any other metal whatsoever. It combines 
extreme ease of manipulation with practically 
endless durability, and a suitability to any scale, 
from a tiny inkwell, or a medal, to the statue of 
horse and rider, a Versailles fountain, or the 
greatest cathedral spire. 

The range of method in handling follows 
from the equal ease with which it can be 

/ B 

2 LEADWORK [sect. 

hammered out, cast, or cut, and all three, 
employed concurrently on the same piece. 

The main purpose of the pages which follow 
is not to set out a history of the use of this 
material in various forms, although this is 
involved. It is intended by pointing out the 
characteristics and methods of the art of lead 
working in the past to show its possibilities for 
us, and for the future. A picture of what has 
been done is the best means of coming to a view 
of what may again be done. But it cannot be 
too strongly asserted that the /(?rwj of past art 
cannot be copied; that certain things have been 
done is evidence enough to show that we can- 
not do them over again. Reproduction is im- 
possible ; to attempt it is but to make a poor 
diagram at the best. 

Commercially produced imitations of or- 
namental works are infinitely beneath the merely 
utilitarian object which serves its purpose and 
attempts nothing more. Behind all design there 
must be a personality expressing himself; but 
certain principles of treatment and methods of 
working may be understood in some degree by a 
study of past work without going all through it 
again. History thus makes the experience of 
the past available to us, but it does not relieve 
us of the necessity of ourselves having experiences. 
There is a great stimulus in feeling one of a 
chain, and entering into the traditions of a body 
of art. The workman Bezin said to Mr. 


Stevenson of museums, " One sees in them little 
miracles of workmanship — it fires a spark." 

New design must ever be founded on a strict 
consideration of the exact purpose to be fulfilled 
by the proposed object, of how it will serve its 
purpose best, and show perfect suitability to the 
end in view when made in this or that material 
by easy means. This, not the torturing 
of a material into forms which have not before 
been used, is the true ground of beauty, and this 
to a certain extent is enough without any 
ornamentation. Ornament is quite another mat- 
ter, it has no justification in service, it can 
only justify itself by being beautiful. 

In so far as history is involved here it has been 
necessary to refer to and to figure many works, 
not bearing the impress of a fine living style, but 
only passable exercises in the respectabilities of 
a sort of conventional design learnt by rote. As 
a general rule it will be found that the workers of 
the middle ages penetrated at once to the reason 
of a thing in structure and then decorated it 
with an evidence of fresh thought — a delight in 
growth, form, humanity, in one word Nature, 
the source of all beauty and subject of all art. 
Each thing made is evidently by an artist; it 
expresses reasonable workmanship and happy 
thought in pleasant solution of some necessity of 
actual service. Many of the later things are 
not thus natural and spontaneous but pedantic 
and pompous, fulfilling their chief intention if 

B 2 

4 LEADWORK [sect. i. 

they were expensive ; while to-day the chief 
care of design is often to appear expensive 
without being so in fact. 

Only in our century in England would it be 
possible for the metals which are so especially 
hers, iron, tin, and lead, to have been so degraded 
that it is hardly possible to think of them as 
vehicles of art. It should not be so, for each of 
the metals can give us characteristics that others 
cannot, and the capabilities of lead have been 
sufficiently proved by more than two thousand 
years of artistic manipulation. 

The only way in which the crafts can again be 
made harmonious by beauty is for men with a 
sense of architectural fitness and a feeling for 
design to take up the actual workmanship and 
practise it themselves as they would painting or 
sculpture, seeking the delight of being good 
artists not the reputation of being successful 
merchants or clever professional men. To any 
such, lead-working may be recommended. 


THE ease with which lead ores may be 
gained from the earth and then worked, 
is sufficient to show that the application 
of lead to the service of the arts must have been 
made very early. 

Nowhere does it seem to have been so easily 
found as " in England herself whch is the 
classic land of lead and tin " (Abbe Cochet). 
These two metals made the early fame of Brit- 
ain; they brought here the Phoenician trader 
and had doubtless much to do with the Roman 
occupation of this distant island. 

" Tin and lead," says Harrison in his Descrip- 
tion of England^ *' metals which Strabo noteth 
in his time to be carried into Marseilles from 
hence, as Diodorus also confirmeth, are very 
plentiful with us, the one in Cornwall, Devon- 
shire, and elsewhere in the north, the other in 
Derbyshire, Weredale, and sundry places of this 
island. . . . There were mines of lead some- 
times also in Wales which endured so long till 
the people had consumed all their wood by 
melting of the same." 

6 LEADWORK [sect. 

Tin, which was of such sovereign necessity 
for the composition of bronze, was, with lead, an 
object of wide commerce, as we may learn from 
the prophecy of Ezekiel against Tyre, whose 
long black ships did the carrying trade of the 
world. As the Tarshish of Scripture is the 
Tartessus of classic authors — an entrepot of 
Phoenician trade in Spain — it may well be of 
English mined metal that the prophet speaks : — 
" Tarshish was thy merchant by reason 
of the multitude of all kinds of riches ; with 
silver, iron, tin, and lead they traded in thy 

The Assyrian slabs which contain the accounts 
of the expedition into Syria in the ninth cen- 
tury B.C. include among the tribute exacted of 
Tyre and of Jerusalem itself " bars of gold, 
silver, copper, and lead." Solomon used lead 
in the structure of the great wall of Jerusalem. 

Sir H. Layard says the mountains three or 
four days' journey from Nineveh furnished iron, 
copper, lead, and silver in abundance, and he 
found instances of its actual use at Nineveh. 
Place also, in his excavations at Khorsabad, dis- 
covered a foundation inscription of Sargon II., 
the great builder of the eighth century b.c. en- 
graved on a plate of lead. A leaden jar and a 
piece of pipe were found by Loftus at Mug- 

In Egypt it was sparingly used. Sir G. 
Wilkinson says : — '' Lead was comparatively 



useless, but was sometimes used for inlaying 
temple doors, coffers and furniture, small statu- 
ettes of the gods were occasionally made in this 
metal, especially those of Osiris and Anubis," 

In Egypt as well as in Babylonia it was the 
custom to make a deposit of several objects in 
the foundations, a tradition which we still 
follow to-day. At Daphnae Mr. Flinders 
Petrie found a set of little slabs of different 
stones and small plates of metal, gold, silver, 
copper, and lead, all engraved with 
the name of Psamtik. The lead 
-: i^— tablet is here figured. 

\9\ The ornamental objects of lead 

^\$) to which the earliest date can be 

'■- - assigned are those found by Dr. 

SchHemann in his excavations at 

MycenK and Tiryns. 

The Greeks very largely used 
lead for many purposes. It is twice 
mentioned in the Iliad, and its 
familiar use as a building material 
is shown by Herodotus, who says that Queen 
Nitocris built a bridge over the river at Babylon, 
of stone bound together with lead and iron ; 
and the story the Greek historian gives of the 
celebrated hanging gardens describes how they 
were raised on high terraces of arches covered 
with bitumen and sheets of lead. 

Sufficient actual examples of Greek lead work 
' See Dr. Schuchardt, transition 1891 (Mscmillan). 



are stored up in museums, masonry with dowels 
of lead, inscribed tablets, small toys and tokens, 
little vases for eye salve about as large as a 
thimble, boxes for unguents, and sling bullets. 
These last are often inscribed so 
that the warrior might know his 
work, often with flouts and jibes 
and jeers. Onein the Lewes Museum 
has ETFEI, — "Well done" ; others 
have " Hit Hard," &c. 

In the museums of Athens are 
some small figures, a Konysiac 
wreath of gilt lead leaves to be 
worn as a garland, a lead quiver for 
arrows about fifteen inches long, 
also plummets and market weights, 
with other objects. Mr. Cockerell 
found that parts of the early pedi- 
ment sculptures at j^gina were of 
lead, and lead is inlaid in the 
volute of the early Ionic capital 
from the archaic temple of Ephesus 
now in the British Museum. 

The plummets are interesting to 
us as builders' implements ; there 
are two or three dozen in the British 
Museum, about three inches high 
and one inch at the base taper- 
ing upwards : some are marked with the 
letter A on one side and on the obverse 
a little relief, a throne-seat with an owl. The 



owl was Athene's own symbol, and appears on 
the coinage of Athens in a form from which 
this seems copied. The Acropolis 
was her throne. We will stretch 
our imaginations far enough to 
believe that the A stands for 
Athens and that these are the 
very implements used in setting 
the masonry of one of the corner 
stones of the world's art — the 

The market weights are re- 
markable in bearing devices like 
the types of coins. For the 
1 most part they are square cakes 
and the devices simple almost to 
rudeness, yet they have that im- 
and grace in the design, with the 
large free handling in which is the exquisiteness 
of Greek art. A sketchiness so simple and easy 
can be the only right treatment for a metal so 
likely to receive injury in the use ; to these as 
in all art so considered the inevitable injuries 
of wear are little loss. We can hardly suppose 
that such a simple industry as making lead 
weights for the markets would have had artists 
capable of designing, and suggesting in relief 
types like these, rather we may suppose that 
some of the great coiners furnished the models, 
especially as they would be issued by the au- 
thorities of the several towns. 

press of style 1 

lo LEADWORK [sect. 

We may take this first opportunity of re- 
marking that the patterns for all ornament 
intended for casting should be modelled like these, 
never carved, as is now so universally the case 
for cast iron and the applied enrichments of 
picture frames, the reason being that cast ma- 
terial of this sort, so easily injured, is unsuited 
for giving definition and high relief, and should 
accept all the limitations of material frankly 

and make the most of dull suggestiveness ; for 
in all these the "best are but shadows" the 
modelling emerging from or melting away in the 
ground. In two attempts the present writer 
has made in modelling for lead casting wax 
was used in one instance, and in the other, where 
very delicate relief was required made up 
mostly of threads and dots, gesso was found to 

The ram's head (see Fig. 4) for instance has 


only the frontal, the lips, and the horn, made out, 
the rest the imagination sees transparently below 
the field. In the words of Blake " it is every- 
thing and nothing." The raised rim is a good 

The second, a half Mina of .^gina, is yet 
simpler— just a pot, but a beautiful one well 
placed. The third is Attic, a quarter Dimnoun 
with scarabeus-like tortoise. The last is a Mina 

of ^gina, it bears the well-known Greek 
rendering of the Dolphin and the letters 
M N A A r O P. •' Market Mina." The 
dolphin has the " bowed back " Sir Thomas 
Browne pointed out as a "popular error" of 
painters, but the dolphin was to the Greek 
mind, rather the genius of the waving sea itself 
than any mere particular fish, and this is the 
time consecrated form,^ like this it swims 
amongst the undulating hair of the Arethusa 



of Syracuse, the most beautiful coin in the 

The Romans used lead extensively and much 
in the same way as we do — for roof coverings 
and water pipes, in masonry and for coffins. In 
Rome an immense quantity of lead piping has 
been found. The pipes were formed of strips 
of cast lead bent round a rod and then soldered. 

Most of the work was signed by the plumber, 
his name and that of the owner being impressed 
in the sand mould.' 

There are many beautiful cistae or circular boxes 
in the museums of Naples and Rome, These 
are decorated with little medallions, shells, 
beaded rods, &c., stock patterns which were 
impressed in the sand mould in such fresh 

' See Prof. Middleton, Ancienl Rome. 


combinations as the thought of the workmen 
suggested, just as a cook makes pie crust, which 
is the subject of nearly the only spontaneous 
decorative art now remaining to us. Figs. 8 and 
9 are from the Kircherian Museum. 

Of the Roman leadwork in the British 
Museum the specimens are mostly coffins, and a 
number of ingots of lead. These " pigs " have 
been found in Cheshire, Staffordshire, Derby- 
shire, Nottingham, Norfolk, Hants, Somerset, 
and Sussex. Of these there are ten in the 
British Museum bearing names of emperors and 
dates which, put into our era, are — a.d. 49, 
Claudius; 59, Nero; 76, Vespasian; 81, 
Domitian ; 117, Hadrian. 

These pigs are about 4|- by 18 inches ; and 
even they are not without design, for some of 
them have the well-known classic label to receive 
the name. 

A beautiful object, remarkable as an instance 
of lead used in an article of price, is a vase some 
5 inches high. This is evidently a wine cup 
from the figures and emblems which decorate it 
— Bacchus, Silenus, thyrsi bound with cords, and 
four genii of* the Seasons carrying appropriate 
symbols, one being a garland, another a sheaf 
of corn ; around the middle is a belt set with 
glass jewels of varied colour, dull reds, greens, and 
blue, and below this is a wreath of vine (Fig. 10). 

Compare a very richly decorated vessel in 
the engravings of the Museo Borbonico. 

1+ LEADWORK [sect. 

Lead water pipes of Roman make are fre- 
quently found in England ; at Bath there is a 
water channel i foot 9 inches by 7 inches, of lead 
nearly one inch in thickness, and sheets of it 10 

feet long lined the basin of the great bath, 30 
lbs. in weight to the foot. In the refuse of the 
Mendip mines Roman lamps and other articles 
of lead have been found. 


During the Byzantine era lead was much used. 
In a curious relief found at Tunis " the founder 
seems to have used up all the old models in his 
studio. Here a Good Shepherd, Peacocks, and 
stags drinking from the four mystical rivers, 
palms and vines, are found side by side with 
Silenus, a Victory, a Nymph, an Athlete, and 
scenes of the chase." ^ In Saxon England lead 
was a staple commodity for export and used in 
great quantities at home. English merchants of 
lead and tin are mentioned as attending the 
French fairs from the time of Dagobert. During 
the middle ages it was largely applied to many 
purposes and manipulated by the various methods 
and decorated with the ornaments, particulars 
of some of which follow. England was still 
the best esteemed source of supply. About 
1680 M. Felibien wrote a book on the crafts 
connected with architecture, in which he says 
that " The greatest part of the lead we use in 
France comes from England in large ingots 
called * Salmons,' a little lead also comes from 
Germany, but it is dry and not so sweet as the 

Up to the 15 th century sheet lead was cast 
only, but a coffin of the Duke of Bedford (Joan 
of Arc's) at Rouen is already laminated. 

Lead is an easy medium for the forgery of 
antiques, and some of the objects so produced 
are quite pretty. In the museum at Taunton 

^ Perat^, V Archiologie Chrkienne. 

1 6 LEADWORK [sect. ii. 

there is a small lead bottle which seems to be a 

The Plumbers' Company in London appears 
to have been in existence early in the fourteenth 
century. In 1365 (39 Edward III.) ordinances 
were granted to the Company which had then 
been in existence some years. In 1588 (31 
Elizabeth) arms and crest were granted ; and 
in, 161 1 (9 James I.) a charter was given 
renewing all powers and privileges. 

Throughout the middle ages lead was more 
extensively used in England than elsewhere — our 
cathedral roofs, for instance, were all of lead, 
whereas abroad they are often of corrugated or flat 
tiles, stone or slate. The methods of conduct- 
ing water from the roof by stone gutters and 
gargoyles was much further developed in France 
than here, where lead always came to hand. 
Lead pipes with ornamental heads were first 
introduced here in England for this purpose, and 
they reached a development without parallel 
abroad. During the eighteenth century there 
was, as we shall see, a large industry in lead 
statues, and the plumber's art continued to the 
opening of the present century ; indeed, cisterns 
decorated with the old devices may be seen as 
late as 1 840, and some of the old methods have 
not yet passed entirely out of memory. The 
Exhibition of 1 8 5 1 marked exactly the general 
eclipse of craft tradition. England was no 
longer to be saved by work, but by commerce. 



SHEETING buildings with decorative 
plates of metal has been one of man's 
architectural instincts. M. Chipiez, in 
his essay on the origins of Greek architecture, 
considers first : — "The temple, metallic or 
covered with metal, which obtained in Medea, 
Judae^, and in Asia Minor. Greek writers like 
Pausanias speak of edifices having been con- 
structed of brass ; such was the legendary 
temple of Apollo at Delphi, that of Athena 
Calkhioecos in Sparta, and the treasury of 
Myron, tyrant of Sicyon. In the Eneid the 
temple erected at Carthage by the Phoenician 
Dido is also of brass." From Homer to the 
Arabian Nights and the mediaeval romance 
writers, a metal-cased architecture, shining with 
gold, has been preeminently the architecture of 
the poets. 

It would almost seem as if in the Merovin- 
gian age Western Europe passed through the 
phase of a metal-cased architecture, but in this 
case it was lead that formed the external vest- 

1 8 LEADWORK [sect. 

ment — an architecture of lead. " Under the 
Merovingian kings/' says M. Viollet-Ie-Duc, 
" they covered entire edifices, churches, or palaces, 
in lead. St. Eloi is said to have so covered the 
church of St. Paul des Champs with sheets of 
lead artistically wrought." 

In England Bede mentions a parallel instance. 
Finian the successor of St. Aidan in the See of 
Lindisfarne built a church after the manner of 
the Scots of hewn oak with a thatched roof; 
afterwards " Eadbert also bishop of that place 
(638) took ofF the thatch and covered it both 
roof and walls with lead." 

The exaggerated lead roofs of the early 
mediaeval churches in England were in nowise 
dictated by utilitarian considerations. The 
creeping of the lead on steep surfaces, the 
many burnings, and the great expense in large 
churches which would take literally acres of 
lead, made maintenance a burden, but they liked 
this metal casing, and that was enough. 

This is still more evident in the mediaeval 
delight in the tall leaded spires, not in their 
aspect as mere roof coverings, but intrinsically 
as metal shrines, looking on them with their 
decorations as vast pieces of goldsmith's taber- 
nacle work. The steep pitch of the roof of 
the main building when applied to a square 
tower quite naturally produced leaded spires. 
These already appear in the drawing made of 
Canterbury Cathedral about the year 1 1 60. 


That these metal-sheeted spires were the best 
loved form, and that stone was adopted at last 
but as a truce with fire is proved by the spires 
of lead which appear in the wall paintings 
(those that were at St. Stephen's for instance), 
in the MSS., and by the splendid leaded spire of 
St. Paul's which we shall speak of below. The 
spire so treated is not a mere roof, or a cheap 
substitute for stone, but takes its place in metal- 
cased architecture, as do also the leaded Byzan- 
tine domes of Sta. Sophia and St. Mark's. 

In that most splendid work of the English 
renaissance, the palace of Nonsuch, which was 
begun by Henry VIII. in 1538, the structure 
was what we call half-timber, the panels were 
filled with coloured and gilt reliefs by Italian 
modellers, and the timber framing is described 
by Pepys, who visited it in 1665, as sheeted 
with lead. This casing we may be sure was 
covered with delicate Italian arabesques. His 
words are, "One great thing is that most of 
the house is covered, I mean the posts and 
quarters in the walls, with lead and gilded." 

c 2 



OUR own old St. Paul's, the once highest 
steeple in the world, which rose 500 
feet and more into the clouds, from 
whence it at last drew the lightning to its 
destruction, was the proudest example of these 
lead spires which for beauty at least equalled 
the finest examples in stone. When the second 
church, begun at the end of the eleventh 
century, was but just completed ; " the quire was 
not thought beautiful enough, though in uni- 
formity of building it suited with the church : 
so that resolving to make it better they began 
with the steeple, which was finished in a.d. 
1 22 1." This was the lead-covered steeple, the 
only spire of the church which stood centrally 
over the crossing. It was 1312 before the 
modification of the old church was done, and 
thenceforth that part was known as the " new 
work." Within three years afterwards a great 
part of the spire of timber covered with lead 
being weak and in danger of falling was taken 
down and a new cross, with pommel large 


enough to contain ten bushels of corn, well 
gilt was set on the top thereof by Gilbert de 
Segrave the Bishop of London with great and 
solemn procession, and relics of saints were 
placed in it.-^ The relics of saints were thus 
put at the apex as a safeguard from lightning. 

This lead spire, repaired in 13 15, must have 
been the work spoken of as finished in 1221, 
and it was thus the earliest lead spire of con- 
siderable dimensions of which we have any know- 
ledge : it was an extraordinary development from 
the square lead pyramids that covered the 
Norman towers at Canterbury and other places. 

Stow says the height was 520 feet "whereof 
the stone-work is 260 feet, and the spire 
was likewise 260 feet. The cross was 
15 feet high by 6 feet over the arms, the 
inner body was of oak, the next cover was of 
lead, and the uttermost was of copper red var- 
nished. The bowl and the eagle or cock were 
of copper and gilt also." The ball at the apex 
was three feet across and the weathercock four 
feet from bill to tail and three feet six inches 
across the wings. " Certes," says Harrison, 
" the toppe of this spire where the weathercocke 
stode was 520 foote from the ground of which 
the spire was one half." The measurements of 
Wren confirm the height of the stone tower 
(which alone was standing in his day) as being 
260 feet, the spire, he says, had been 40 feet 

^ Longmans, Three Cathedrals. 

2 2 LEAD WORK [sect. 

diameter at the base and rose 200 feet or more. 
It must have been altogether worthy of this vast 
church of twenty-five compartments in the in- 
terior vista of arch and vault, 600 feet in 
greatest length and 100 feet high. In 1444 
the spire narrowly escaped destruction by light- 
ning, but the fire was put out. " In the year 
1 561, the 4th of June, between the hours of 
three and four of the clock in the afternoon, the 
great spire of the steeple of St. Paul's Church 
was fired by lightning, which brake forth as it 
seemed two or three yards beneath the foot of 
the cross : and from thence it went downwards 
the spire to the battlements, stonework, and 
bells, so furiously that within the space of four 
hours the same steeple with all the roofs of the 
church were consumed to the great sorrow and 
perpetual remembrance of the beholders."^ It 
was thus destroyed a hundred years before the 
great fire when the cathedral perished. 

London was a city of lead spires. Stow tells 
us that at St. Paul's School close by the Cathe- 
dral was *' of old time a great and high clochiard 
or bell-house, four square built of stone and in 
the same a most strong frame of timber with 
four bells the greatest that I have ever heard. 
The same has a great spire covered with lead 
with the image of St. Paul on the top." It was 
said that Sir Thomas Partridge won it by a throw 
of dice from Henry VIII., and pulled it down. 

J Stow. 


Stow, who would have thought the Society for 
the Preservation of Ancient Buildings, to which 
we owe so much good work, much too cautious 
in its methods, reports with much pleasure, 
" This man was afterwards hanged on Tower 
Hill." At St. Bartholomew's Priory, Smithfield, 
was another of these timber spires. 

A spire said to have been even higher than this 
of St. Paul's was erected in the fourteenth cen- 
tury over the central tower at Lincoln. The two 
western towers also had spires which were taken 
down to save the cost of repair within this cen- 
tury. This group of three great leaded spires 
crowning the Hill-city must have been one ot 
the most wonderful the whole world over. The 
central tower as it now stands is 270 feet high 
54 feet on the face; it was finished in 131 1. 
'* The spire of timber covered with lead reaching 
a height of 524 feet which once surmounted it 
was destroyed by a tempest in 1548." ^ 

The plates in Dugdale's Monasticon engraved 
by Hollar and others surprise us by the number 
of leaded spires to the cathedrals not one of 
which has survived storm and flames or the 
crueller hatred of beauty which the modern 
mind has developed. There are those of the 
two west towers of Durham, western spires at 
Canterbury, Peterborough, and Ely, all three at 
Lincoln, and four smaller pinnacles at Norwich. 
Two square pyramids shown to the west tower 

^ Cathedral Guide, 

24 LEADWORK [sect. 

of Southwell, were probably the original cover- 
ing of the twelfth century. These are now 
" restored " and they look as false as the word. 

The great central spires at Rochester and at 
Hereford and the central and two western spires 
at Ripon are shown of lead, as is also that of 
the beautiful isolated belfry at Salisbury, which 
was destroyed " to improve the view of the 
cathedral." Of three of these large central 
spires shown in Dugdale, Rochester and Here- 
ford rise from square towers with " broaches " : 
the first is of a curious and yet happy form, 
with recessed faces, and the other is an octagon 
of which the cardinal faces are wider than the 
alternate sides. The great spire of Ripon rose 
within the stone parapet of the tower, apparently 
at first twelve-sided with gables, and the spire 
itself twenty-four, each pair making a slight re- 
entering angle — a beautiful composition it must 
have been of light and delicate shadow on the 
silver white of the old lead. This fair colour is 
of great importance ; several of the old spires 
which remain to us are as white as if white- 
washed. Modern ones, like the grimy thing at 
Lynn, would be improved by being whitewashed. 
The old, that at Minster in Kent for instance, tell 
as bright high lights in a general view of the land- 
scape such as that you obtain from Richborough. 

The finest of the English spires now existing 
constructed of timber and sheeted with lead is 
that of Long Sutton in Lincolnshire, the highest. 


oldest, and most perfect. The stone tower with 
octagon projections at the angles, is 25 feet square 
and 65 high, standing free from the church to 
which it is attached by one angle only. The 
fleche itself is 85 feet from the eaves to the top 
of an enormous relic " pommel " some four feet 
in diameter, which is thus 150 feet in the air. 
The four octagonal projections carry large 
pinnacles 25 feet high, which at a little height 
disengage themselves wholly from the great 
fleche, but with consummate art all lean their 
axes inwards towards it as much as two feet. 
The wooden framing, carefully measured by Mr. 
Austin,^ shows that this grouping of the lines 
was as much done from set purpose as the incli- 
nation of the lines in the Parthenon of which we 
hear so much. Each face of the leading has the 
rolls arranged in a double row of herringbone, 
and the faces of the pinnacles have the leading 
slanting in one direction only. Altogether it is 
a most interesting and most beautiful work of 
the thirteenth century. 

The drawing here given is of the fine old 
steeple at Barnstaple, which was saved from 
destruction by the good advice of Sir Gilbert 
Scott — and lack of funds ! It is a delightfully 
careless and cheerful looking object, like that at 
Chesterfield, warped and nodding, which outrages 
the precise sensibilities of the townspeople ; it 
was erected in 1 389, as appears from the accounts 

^ spring Gardens Sketch Book, vol. v. 

I \f^^ 


and was repaired and altered in the seventeenth 
century (as shown by a date and initials, 
" 1636 W. T."), at which time the spire lights 
were opened out. The external bells are un- 
usual in England. There are two other spires of 
village churches in the neighbourhood at 
Braunton and Swymbridge. The spires at 
Chesterfield, Godalming, Almondsbury in 

Gloucestershire, Wrighton in 
Northumberland, and Harrow 
(148 1 ), are among the finest 
that remain. Of the destroyed 
church at Reculver the west 
towers, which are retained asland- 
marks, had lead spires. In some 
spires in Norfolk, about Cromer, 
two or three feet of the lead- 
ing is omitted, thus forming an 
open band through which the 
RB^j^-j^ timbering and a bell hung here 
I may be seen. In some of the 
spires the lead is laid in vertical 
strips, as at Minster in Thanet, 
and a sketch given from a church in Hertfordshire 
shows the lower part in a way arcaded by an 
ingenious arrangement of the rolls. At great 
Baddow Church, Essex, vertical rolls run up 
about two-thirds of the spire, and the rest is 
plain. Generally, however, the lead work is 
arranged in herring-bone with careful irregu- 
larity and change so as to get a texture in the 

Fig. 12. 

2 8 LEAD WORK [sect. 

surface so different to the dead and dreary 
accuracy we should attain to. Low square 
spires at Ottery St. Mary are good examples 
of lead texture for those who see some beauty 
in the jointing of the armour of a tortoise. 

The construction of the wood framing of the 
greater of these spires is a forest of intricate 
interlacing timbers, the best authority for which 
is the article Fteche in VioUet-le-Duc, or Burges' 
drawing of Amiens in his volume of careful 
studies of the Gothic art of France. 

The most decorated of these lead spires in 
England — although not very large — is at East 
Harling in Norfolk. It rises within the stone 
battlement and has an open stage with wood 
pinnacles and crocketed " flying buttresses " all 
covered with lead. The sides of the spire proper, 
very narrow and acute, have the rolls arranged 
in lozenges instead of the usual herring-bone 
or vertical lines, the lozenges are on one side as 
wide as the face, breaking into a zig-zag above, 
on another side are smaller lozenges three or 
four in the width changing into one again 
above: at the apex is a large finial knob.^ 

Wren's knowledge of the spire of old St. 
Paul's possibly led him to try his hand at leaded 
spires, and the result in some of the City churches, 
particularly that one on Ludgate Hill that is 
such a perfect foil for the great dome of St. 
Paul's, shows his usual assured mastery. The 

^ See drawing in Sketch Book of Architectural Association^ i88i. 


spire of St. Olave, Hart Street, is said to have 

a crystal ball at the apex. 

The smaller turrets on college halis are 

generally covered with lead in an c^ee form. 
I Those at Oxford 

have oftenalozenge 
raised on each face, 
that on Barnard's 
Inn in the City is 
wholly enveloped 
in lead. A turret 
on the alms-houses 
at Abingdon has 
large letters and 
crowns, which are 
gilt, standing up 
free on the slant- 
ing faces. At 
Hampton Court 
there are turret 
roofs, ogee with 
crockets and finials 
and little pinnacles 
set round at the 
springing. At 
Nonsuch leaded 
-™m.™..uu„-„ turrets surmounted 

the great octagons 
at the angles, they were probably much deco- 
rated and certainly of considerable size, making 
very picturesque compositions, as we may 

30 LEADWORK [sect. 

see in the rude views of the palace which 

In France and Germany there are many 
remarkable leaded spires, but we can only stay 
to mention the steeple at Chalons-sur-Marne, 
the central fleche at Amiens, and the belfry at 
Calais. The steeple at Chalons is a most 
interesting work, large and well-designed, with 
faint and fascinating remains of a gorgeous 
scheme of colour decoration patterning the 
whole surface of the lead with figures and 
canopies resembling the drawing on stained glass, 
the lead rolls passing across the design like the 
iron glazing bars. This was carefully drawn by 
Burges and illustrated in the Builder for 1856, 
and the whole spire is represented to scale in the 
Sketch Book of the Architectural Association 
for 1883. This is a work of the end of the 
thirteenth century, and the decoration was done 
in the following century. It will be well to 
mention it more particularly later, but as Viollet- 
le-Duc says that nearly all the lead work of the 
middle ages was so decorated we may conclude 
that such a magnificent spire as St. Paul's was 
not entirely bare of gold and colour. 

The fleche at Amiens, which rises from the 
roof some 100 feet of "transparent fretwork 
which seems to bend to the west wind," is well 
illustrated in Viollet-le-Duc's Dictionary as well 
as by Burges. Every resource of the art was 
lavished on it, pinnacles and niches, lead statues. 


tracery, great circular coronets of pierced cast 
work. The sheet lead was diapered with fleurs- 
de-lis, and all was decorated with designs in 
colour and gold. Although perfectly Gothic 
in form it is a work of the sixteenth century, 
and the painting is in the manner of the Re- 

At Calais the fine belfry represented in Fig. 
1 4, which was completed about 1 600, is in some 
respects very English in character, while on the 
other hand it is a northern representative of a 
class of bulbous spires which are as much cupolas 
as spires, and were probably often intended as 
fantastic domes These, although later found 
all across Europe, from Russia to Belgium, were 
never naturalised in England on a large scale, 
our nearest approach to them being in the ogee 
cupolas of small turrets and lanterns and some 
of Wren's spires. In Holland they were very 
much affected in the most extravagant forms, 
and they are now the constant form of church 
spire seen in eastern Europe. They seem much 
at home in such a city as Buda-Pesth, and have 
doubtless characteristics which endear them to 
those of Mongolian blood and speech. It is 
an interesting point to decide whether these 
forms are in origin actually Eastern — " travelled 
topes " as a friend says — or whether they are 
the natural outcome of a combination of spire 
and dome in a period of extravagant and declin- 
ing taste. 



THE Romans covered domes in lead ; during 
the Byzantine empire they very generally 
did so. Constantinople in the age of 
Justinian was a city of lead domes, as it has 
always since remained. The domes of St. Sophia 
are still covered with lead laid over the brick- 
work. This tradition was carried on by the 
Greek master builders who erected the great 
mosques for the conquerors. A large mosque 
has as many as twenty or thirty domes of all 
sizes grouped about the central one. The 
bazaars, caravansaries, and bakeries, have long 
level rows of cupolas. This prospect of dome 
beyond dome in a succession as of billows is of 
marvellous beauty in a general view of the city 
as seen from the sea. The lead is laid over the 
brickwork, the rolls are very small, and as they 
have no wood core the lines, are very irregular. 
Some of the lead domes of Constantinople were 
melon-shaped, that is having large convex 
gores. A Turkish example of this remains in an 
ogee-shaped dome at the angle of the Seraglio 
wall near St. Sophia. 


34 LEAD WORK [sect. 

Most interesting works of this tradition are 
the "domes" or rather domical roofs of St. 
Mark's at Venice. Those eastern-looking forms 
which give such fantasy to It were raised to 
their present form on wooden framework in the 
thirteenth century. They are sheeted with plain 
rolls except the bulb-formed lanterns, which are 
much like an umbrella in which every gore has 
a salient angle, a " ridge and valley." These 
five timber-framed spire-like domes, erected for 
their own sake and not lying close to the interior 
form of the building, in this respect resemble 
northern spires. The whole group rising over 
the level front of St. Mark's is a work of the 
highest imaginative genius. It is not a building 
with a dome but a building roofed in domes, 
bubbling over with domes ; and it expresses the 
metal shrine idea in perfection. The original 
leaded domes of St. Mark's were copied from 
those of the church of the Holy Apostles at 
Constantinople, a church built by Justinian. 

At the Renaissance the leaded dome became a 
popular commonplace especially at Venice. For 
the most part these were covered like a roof with 
ordinary rolls. By forming ribs and panels in 
the wooden foundation a more elaborate but not 
more successful aspect is obtained. Sit. Paul's is 
well designed in this way. This design with the 
great ribs Sir Christopher Wren considered " less 
gothick than sticking it full of rows of little 
windows " as at St. Peter's. It was first intended 

v.] OF DOMES 35 

to cover St. Paul's dome with copper,- but ^^500 
was saved by substituting lead at a cost of 

At the National Gallery — a very careful and 
refined work, one of the last of the old scholarly 
dead language sort we call classic — the lead 
covering is formed into raised scales and frets, 
very well and successfully done of its kind. 


THE Romans used lead as a roof covering. 
In the West " one can hardly (Viollet- 
le-Duc says) explore the ruins of a Gallo- 
Roman erection without finding some sheet- 
lead that had been employed for gutters or roofs." 
In the East — Eusebius says of Constantine's 
Basilica (the Holy Sepulchre) at Jerusalem — 
" the roof with its chambers was covered with 
lead to protect it from the winter rain." In 
England Bede tells us of Wilfrid having roofed 
his church at York with lead in the seventh 
century, and it has continued without a break in 
its use as the most perfect of coverings. 

The methods employed in the middle ages are 
described by Burges and Viollet-le-Duc. The 
latter well remarks that of lead covering, as well as 
many other parts of the construction of buildings, 
we are a little too apt to think overmuch of the 
perfection of our modern methods while we are 
too little careful to learn the experience acquired 
by our forefathers. 

The old cast lead is much thicker than the 
modern milled lead, being as much as twelve or 


thirteen pounds to the foot of surface. It is 
certainly not quite even in thickness, and is 
subject to faults in the casting, but it is not so 
liable to crack as is milled lead. The old lead 
employed has also a considerable quantity of 
silver and arsenic in it, which was the cause of 
the beautiful white oxide it obtained. Modern 
lead blackens as the preparation of lead now 
includes its "de-silverisation." The acid of 
timber which has not lost its sap decomposes lead ; 
old building timber was water-seasoned as only 
ship timber now is. 

The chief difficulties that had to be overcome 
in the use of lead were the weight of the sheets 
of lead to be maintained in position, and the great 
dilatation of the metal under the heat of the sun, 
so that it had to be at once strongly attached and 
free to move. The method followed was to 
nail it at the top and roll the lateral edges 

The roofing at Canterbury was of twelve-pound 
lead and about 2*o between the rolls. The 
thirteenth century lead of Chartres Cathedral, 
" covered externally by time with a patina hard, 
brown, and wrinkled, and shining in the sun," 
was in sheets eight feet long, attached at the top 
by nails with very large heads and held at the 
bottom by clips of iron that passed down between 
the sheets and turned over the bottom edge of 
the upper one. The rolls were formed by turn- 
ing over the margins one in the other without a 

38 LEAD WORK [sect. 

wood roll ; they were much smaller than the 
modern ones. 

Our milled lead is rolled out in sheets about 
i6 X 6 feet and is usually cut in half lengthways, 
and 4|- inches is allowed in each edge to form 
the rolls which are thus 2'-3" apart. Lead one 
inch thick is sixty pounds to the square foot, so 

six-pounds lead is ^'if^'^ ^^ ^^ ^^^^ ^^ thick- 
ness. We generally make the mistake of putting 
a longitudinal roll along the ridge, but it is not 
so done in our old roofs, nor should it be, for 
the running out of the rolls frets the ridge into 
a simple decoration. 

The lead covering of old roofs should be 
jealously maintained — its loss is irreparable. If 
repair becomes absolutely necessary for the 
protection of the building, such lead should be 
recast, it should never be replaced by milled 
lead. The old metal is easily recast on the 
ground, and this is now frequently done, but 
not frequently enough. It was cast on a 
wood table with a projecting margin or curb 
all round ; on this slid up and down a cross 
piece notched down to give the proper gauge to 
the lead which it levelled. 

Where lead was applied to the vertical or 
steep planes of dormers or spires the interlocking 
of the sheets in herring-bone was a practical as 
well as an artistic expedient. Where nails had 
to be driven through exposed lead, in repairs or 
otherwise, flaps like little shields were laid over 


them soldered on the top edge. Lead, where 
used to incase wood tracery, as in the open work 
of spires or dormers, was secured by means of 
laps and rolls without solder so that it was free 
to expand and contract. The modern plumber 
is much too apt to employ soldered joints even 
in structural work. 

Small openings were made like little dormers, 
for ventilation of the roof timbers, by dressing a 
stout piece of lead up into a triangle or half 
circle in front dying back on the roof with the 
back turned up under the tiles or slates. 

Sometimes cast ornaments were applied to a 
slated roof ; the disc with undulating rays on the 
slated apex of the north-west tower at Rouen is 
an instance. 


IN the later classical period lead was much 
used for coffins ; several of very fine work- 
manship have been discovered in Syria, some 
of these, very delicately ornamented are figured by 
Perrot,and Chipiez.^ In the Louvre there is a finely 
decorated example of the Roman period, and 
large numbers of Roman lead coffins have been 
found both in England and in France. There 
is a very beautifully decorated early Christian 
coffin in the museum at Cannes, this has a 
border of vine and birds with monograms of 
Christ — XP. IXerC.^ Fig. 15 shows portions 
of ornamentation from a remarkable series of 
coffins now in the museum of Constantinople. 
There are some eight or ten of these and all 
decorated in the most elaborate way with 
tendrils and medallions beautifully modelled in 
very slight relief. None of the symbols are 
definitely Christian, but they evidently belong to 
the same school as the last named. The neigh- 
bourhood of Bey rout and the ancient Sidon was 

^ History of Art^ " Phcenicia.'' 
" Illustrated by Reber. 




the site of the discovery of most of these coffins 
of early Christian date. 

The coffins found in England are not so much 
Roman as strictly Anglo-Roman, for far more 
have been found here than in any other country, 
such as have been found in France are near our 
shores as if certainly made of our lead, and the 
ornamentation of the English examples has a 
common likeness in the use of the scallop shell 


Fig. 15. — Ornaments from early Christian Coffins, Constantinople. 

which is not represented abroad. The compari- 
son can best be made in a little book by the 
learned archaeologist Abbe Cochet of Rouen, 
Les Cercueils de Plo77tb (1871), in which the 
examples found in France are figured. 

These English coffins and sepulchral cists 
are mostly in the British Museum and at 
Colchester. The cists are plain circular boxes 
some ten inches diameter by fourteen inches high ; 



one of these is decorated by simple circles and 
another has crossed rods of " reel and bead," 
with applied small panels of chariots and horses. 
The coffins have been found chiefly in the Lon- 
don district — in the Minories, Stepney, Stratford ; 
at East Ham, Plumstead in Kent (this last is 
now in Maidstone Museum)— at Southfleet and 

at Colchester and Norwich. They are decorated 
by rods of " bead and reel " differently arranged 
on the lids in zig-zags or lozenges, with scallop 
shells and plain rings placed in the spaces. The 
rods and shells were evidently separately im- 
pressed into the flat field of the sand mould and 
that with the artful carelessness which shows 


that the designer and the workmen were one and 
the same person, an artist. With these simple 
elements compositions are made of quite classic 
distinction and grace. Mr. Alma-Tadema 
apparently drew the fine leaden oleander tub in 
his picture from these coffins, and it makes a 
perfect flower-pot. 

A coffin found at Pettham in Kent was 
decorated by a simple cord which passed around 
once transversely in the middle and then each of 
the spaces thus formed on lid, sides, and ends 
had diagonals of cord. A fragment of one 
in the museum at Cirencester is more finished 
and refined, it has a saltire of the twisted bars 
with terminations at their ends, and in one of the 
spaces is a small female head. 

The coffins are made like a modern paper 
box with a lid lapping over the sides. Some 
sketches are given from those in the British 
Museum. That shown in Fig. 19 was of 
full length (6 ft.) but only a part of the lid 
remains. The other two (Figs. 18 and 20) are 
less than 4 ft., one of which is ornamented 
with rings and ropes and curious forms like the 
letter B. Those at Colchester are like the 
former. These coffins are all very white with 

The French examples have been found at 
Boulogne, Beauvais, Amiens, Angers, Rouen, 
and Valogne near Cherbourg, but none are like 
the English in having rods of beads with scallop 

.11 Colliiis, ItrilLsh Mi 



shells. One has only 
groups of rings which, 
simple as it is, makes 
a design. Another at 
Rouen has a human 
head in a circle at the 
centre with six lions' 
heads in octagons. 
That at Valt^ne has a 
trunk-shaped lid with 
flying genii and birds ; 
and one at Nismes has 
lions and gnffins, and 
between each p^r per- 
sons planting a vine. 

There is just enough 
evidence to show that 
the use of leaden coffins 
was continued by the 
English after they had 
superseded the Romans. 
St Guthlac, Abbot of 
Croyland, was, Leland 
says, buried in a sarco- 
phagus of lead. And 
bt Dunstan was buried 
at Canterbury in a lead 

Directly after the 
Conquest we find them 
m use. At Lewes there 



»// « 


Fig. ji.— Thineenlh Century Coffin, Tempi* Chon 




are two coffins of De Warren (1088), and his 
wife the daughter of the Conqueror (1085) ; 





Figs. 22 and 23. — Thirteenth Century Coffins, Temple Church. 

they are covered with the reticulated meshes of 
a net, both sides and lid as if cast from actual 
netted cord. At the heads are the names 

St. Dunstan was re-interred in the new work 
at Canterbury in 1180 in a coffin of lead which 
was " not plain, but of beautiful plaited work." 

Some most remarkable coffins thus decorated 
were discovered in 1841 in relaying the floor of 




the Temple Church in London ; the style of 
their design would show that they were made 
about the year 1200. They contained the 
bodies represented above them by the cross- 
legged stone effigies of knights. These coffins 
were drawn and published by Mr. Edward 
Richardson in 1845, fro^^ whose careful drawings 
are made the accompanying illustrations. 

The extreme delicacy of the 
— r ornament is most remarkable. 
Here again the pattern design 
is made up of portions several 
times repeated in similar or 
different combinations ; the 
panels were either cast to the 
required number and then 
arranged on a board from 
which the final mould was 
made ; or the parts were im- 
pressed separately in a smooth 
and level surface of moulding 
sand, and this with all the 
rapid ease of self-sufficient 
art. They are about 6 feet 
6 inches long, and some are 
formed like the stone coffins 
of the time with a circular end 
for the head. The sides as 
well as the covering are de- 
corated in the richest example 
Fig. 24. by two of the same small 


square patterns alternating, and in others by 
vertical cords at intervals. 

At Winchester there has recently been ex- 
posed a fifteenth century coffin bearing on the 
lid a cross and the arms of the Bishop Courtenay. 
(Fig. 24.) 

Later the form was made to conform more 
closely to the body, being rather a wrapping than 
a box. That of Henry IV. (1413) at Canter- 
bury was of this form, as also was that found at 
Westminster under the tomb of Henry VII., the 
latter had a small cross at the breast only. 

The heart-box of Richard Cceur de Lion is 
mentioned in another place. There is a heart 
casket in the British Museum, circular and much 

50 LEADWORK [sect. vn. 

like a flower-pot ; on the lid is the device of a 
spear-head within a garter, and engraved outside 
is this inscription : — " Here lith the Harte of 
Sir Henrye Sydney. Anno Domini 1586.'* 

A fine coffin (Fig. 25) is represented in the lead 
group of the entombment at Moissac in France. 
This is 15th century work. 


ENGLAND is extremely rich in the posses- 
sion of early fonts in lead ; these are for 
the most part alike in being of the 
twelfth or early thirteenth century. Nearly all 
of them agree in being circular and have other 
similarities which with many repetitions in their 
design would seem to relate them to one family. 
As in Sussex there are in the neighbouring 
villages of Edburton and Piecombe two fonts 
substantially alike, and in Gloucestershire 
another pair, with others that have close 
resemblances ; they have been claimed for local 
manufacture, yet a strong case could be made 
out for most of them coming from one common 
centre. As, further, there are several specimens 
in Normandy entirely parallel, the question 
arises whether the type arose here or there, for 
there can be no doubt as to one set being 
indebted to the other. As England was so 
especially a lead producing and exporting 
country, and as such a number of these fonts 
remain with us broadly scattered over the 
country, while there are but comparatively few in 

E 2 

S2 LEADWORK [sect. 

France, and those mostly in Normandy, this, 
with the local coincidences pointed out, would 
seem to give us the best claim. 

There is in the Lewes Museum a lead cistern- 
like object of Saxon work, which is represented 
in Fig. 26. Jt is about 14 inches long and 8 
inches high, the sides are decorated with triangles 
of interlacing patterns cast with the lead. It has 
two handles of iron ; but as it would be much 
too heavy for a movable vessel, and as the small 
foreign lead font in Kensington Museum has 
handles also, it is probably a font. The cross 
in the decoration would go to confirm this. 

Some of the fonts of Norman date it cannot 
be doubted were made in England. But unless 
we would claim the two figured by VioIIet-Ie- 

viii.] OF FONTS 53 

Due and that at St. Evrault-le-Montford which 
is similar to ours at Brookland described below, 
we can hardly claim to have made all our own. 
Possibly examples were brought here, as was the 
case with several black stone fonts in England. 

Some of these lead fonts (that at Wareham for 
instance) appear to have been cast in one piece. 
But for the most part they are small low cylinders 
cast flat in sheet with the ornaments repeated 
usually more than once in the sand mould ; the 
casting was then bent round and soldered. In 
one case, where it is not joined so as to form a 
cylinder, but with the sides spreading to the top, 
the band of ornamentation which was straight 
on the sheet runs up as it approaches the joint 
in a most amusing way. The patterns consist 
of delicate scroll-work, arcades and boldly 
modelled figures lo or 12 inches high; a 
moulding strengthens the upper and lower 
edges. They stand on stone pedestals. 

There are altogether some twenty-eight or 
thirty of these fonts in England. 

The font at Brookland at Kent is very small, 
only 1 1 inches high, an arcade surrounds it of 
two stages in twelve bays. In the upper tier are 
the signs of the Zodiac with their Latin names, 
and below the subjects of the labours appropri- 
ate to the months with their names in Norman 
French. This scheme of imagery is well known 
abroad but while often occurring in English 
MSS. this is one of very few examples of its 



treatment in sculpture. Although the scale of 
the figures is small and they are but slightly 
modelled, there is a great deal of character, 
appropriateness, and grace, in their gesture. 

A comparative table of the usual scenes 
which accompany the signs has been given in 
j^rckao/ogia, and another, probably more accesa- 

ble, in the Stones of Venice. With the examples 

56 LEAD WORK [sect. 

there given the scenes on the font very closely 
agree. They are inscribed in capitals : — 

Aquarius. — ^Janvier. A Janus-headed figure feasting. 

Pisces. — Fevrier. Warming feet at fire. 

Aries. — Mars. Man hooded and pruning a vine. 

Taurus. — Avril. Young girl with lilies in her 

Gemini. — Mai. Man on horse, hawk on wrist. 

Cancer. — ^Juin. Mowing with a scythe. 

Leo. — Julius. Man with wide brim hat raking hay. 

Virgo. — Aout. Cutting corn. 

Libra. — Septembre. Threshing corn. 

Scorpio. — Octobre. Treading out wine. 

Sagittarius. — Novembre. Woman lighting with 
candles the next scene, or feeding the pigs. 

Capricornus. — Decembr?:. Man, killing swine with 

The signs are thus represented : — Aquarius, 
man pouring water from a jug. Pisces, two 
fish as usual reversed. The ram and the bull 
are much alike. The twins and the crab are 
not remarkable, except the latter for unlikeness. 
Leo is a good heraldic beast. The Virgin, 
much obscured. Libra, a man with scales. 
Scorpio, is certainly a frog. Sagittarius, a 
centaur. Capricorn is indeed a capricious 
creature like a cockatrice with horns. The 
forequarters of a goat with fish-tail is the tradi- 
tional form for this sign handed on from the 
Roman Zodiac. 

In the months, the Mower, the man raking, 
and especially the Reaper, are well designed ; the 
man pruning is also good, and the girl with the 


long stalked lilies in her hand is charming. 
The four last are shown in the sketches given. 
The pillars are varied, every third standing on 
the loop as shown. 

The font at Edburton in Sussex is 21 
inches in diameter and 14 inches high ; it 

has a wide band of foliage and at the top a row 
of trefoil panels. At Piecombe, the adjoining 
parish, the upper row of small trefoil arches and 
the narrow band of ornament are the same, but 
instead of the lower panels there is a row of 
round-headed arches. 

58 LEAD WORK [sect. 

At Lancourt, or Llancault, and Tedenham in 
Gloucestershire there are fonts in duplicate. 
These are much larger, 2 feet 8 inches in 
diameter by i foot 7 inches high. An 
arcade of twelve arches surrounds the bowl ; each 
compartment has a throned figure or a panel of 
foliage alternately. There are two varieties of 
figure and foliage, each is thrice repeated and the 
little columns are twisted and decorated. These 
two fonts are evidently of the twelfth century.^ 
At Frampton-on-Severn is a font with similar 
seated figures and foliage. 

At Wareham in Dorsetshire the font is 
hexagonal with two standing figures under 
arches in each face, twelve altogether. The 
sides instead of being vertical slope outwards. 
The style seems central Norman not transitional, 
like several of the examples. 

At Dorchester, Oxfordshire, the bowl is 
2 feet I inch diameter 14 inches deep, it 
has an arcade wholly of seated figures of bishops. 
It is a very beautiful work, the figures are 
extremely well modelled, and the whole in good 
condition, the lead of great substance. 

Walton-on-the-hill, Surrey, has a similar font 
14 inches high, surrounded by an arcade, 
and in each compartment a sitting figure. A 
sketch of one arch given is necessarily rough, as 
the modelling, even at first soft and sketchy, has 
suffered some injury in the use of 700 years. 

^ For engravings see Archaologia, vol. xxix. 

At Wansford, Northamptonshire, is another 
of these with arcades and figures.' 

Fig. 30.— Fonl, Walton, Sun 

At Childrey, in Berkshire, there is also a font 
with twelve mitred bishops with pastoral staflfs 
and books. 

' Sit Parker's Glossary, vol. i 



Another at Long-Wittenham, in the same 
county, has the arcade at bottom of very tiny 
pointed arches of some thirty bays with figures, 
above are panels with discs and rosettes.-^ One 
at Warborough, in Oxfordshire, is similar in 
style, made in the same workshop apparently. 
The bottom half has a small arcade interrupted 
after every four arches by three higher ones : 
in the twelve small niches are figures of bishops 
with mitre and stafF and lifted hand in benedic- 
tion, the three high arches and the space above 
the little ones have discs of ornament, the 
bishops are repeated from one pattern ; the size 
is 1-3 in height by 2-2 diameter.^ 

Woolhampton, in Berkshire, has a font in 
which the lead is placed over stone and pierced, 
leaving an arcade and figures showing against 
the stone background. 

The font at Parham is of later Gothic. Mr. 
Andre gives an account of it in Vol. 32, 
Sussex Archaeological Society ; it is only 1 8 
inches in diameter, and a portion of the bottom 
is hidden by being sunk into the stone block on 
which it stands. The decoration is made by 
repeats of a label bearing + IHC NAZAR placed 
alternately upright and horizontally with small 
shields in the interspaces which are said to bear 
the arms of Andrew Peverell, knight of the 
shire in 1351. The style of the lettering would 

^ See Archaological Jmimal, vol. ii. 
« See Paley's Fonts, 

vm.] OF FONTS 61 

seem earlier than this. IHC NAZAR was fre- 
quently engraved on the front of knights' hel- 
mets. This is an extremely good example of 
how a fine- design may be made of simplest 

A Norman font of lead at Great Plumstead 
was destroyed with the church in the fire or 
December, 1891. It is figured by Cotman.^ 

The font at Avebury, Wiltshire, has often 
erroneously been stated to be of lead ; there is a 
resemblance in the design, but it is of stone 




At Ashover, Derbyshire, the stone font has 
leaden statutes of the Apostles. 

There is a seventeenth century lead font at 
Clunbridge, Gloucestershire. 

A complete list as far as possible follows : — 

Berkshire . . . 

Childrey and Long-Wittenham, 

Clewer, Woolhampton, and 

Woolstone (Norman) 

Derbyshire . . . 

Ashover (Norman) 

Dorsetshire . . . 

Wareham (Norman) 

Gloucestershire . 

Frampton-on-Severn and Llancourt 

(similar, Norman) 

Siston and Tidenham (Norman) 

Gloucester Museum (Norman) 

Clunbridge (1640) 


Brookland (Norman), Chilham, and 

Eythorne (the latter dated 1628, 

a copy of a Norman original) 

Lincolnshire . . 

Barnetby-le-Wolde (Norman) 

Norfolk .... 

Brundal, Hastingham (Norman) 



Oxfordshire . . . 

Clifton, Dorchester, Warborough, 


Somerset. . . . 


Surrey .... 

Walton-on-the-hill (Norman) 

Sussex .... 

Edburton and Piecombe (early 


Parham (Decorated) 

Wiltshire. . . . 


Two of the French fonts are figured by 
Viollet-le-Duc,^ that at Berneuil is of the twelfth 
century and very similar to that at Tidenham 

^ Art. Fons, 


in Gloucestershire, with alternate arches occupied 
by figures and foliage. 

At Lombez (Gers) is a very beautiful ex- 
ample, small and delicate, with two girdles of 
decoration, the upper row continuous ^ foliage 
and figures, but made up of one scene, a man 
discharging an arrow at a lion and u basilisk, 
five times repeated ; the lower row has sixteen 
quatre-foils with figures of four varieties re- 
peated, these are the religious orders. It is 
remarked that the decorations were evidently 
"stock patterns" because the upper row is 
much older than the lower, which is of the late 
thirteenth century. 

At Visine (Somme) is one of the fifteenth 
century with separate cast figures in sixteen 

At Bourg-Achard, in Normandy, is another 
lead font,^ and one is also in the Museum of 
Antiquities in Rouen, this last has a long 
inscription and date, 1415. There is a cast of 
one of these fonts in the Trocadero collection 
in Paris. 

At St. Evrouet-de-Monford (Orne) is another 
very similar to our Brookland font with Zodiac 
and Seasons. 

In Germany, at Mayence, there is a very fine 
example of the fourteenth century. And in 
the South Kensington Museum is a copy of a 
small circular lead font in the Berlin Museum ; 

^ Dawson Turner's Tour, 

64 LEADWORK [sect. 


this is cast in one piece, it stands on three lions' 
feet and has two handles, around it is an in- 
scription in Lombardic letters. It was presented 
to Treves by Bishop Baldani in the thirteenth 


A SHEET of lead is a most inviting sur- 
face for inscriptions, as may be seen by 
making a trip to the leads of some 
cathedral or castle and inspecting the series of 
names, dates, hand-marks and foot-prints left 
by generations of plumbers and visitors. So 
lead has been one of the chief materials used for 
written documents, not merely ephemeral, and 
even now it would be difficult to find anything 
more ready to receive the legend, more enduring 
to transmit it, and so easily decorated with the 
charm of art which makes an object worthy to 
live. Our first illustration shows the foundation 
record of an Egyptian King inscribed on lead. 

It was the custom also in ancient Baby- 
lonia to insert inscriptions below the foundation 
stones of the great temples and palaces. In 
1854 Place found at Khorsabad the memorial 
inscriptions of the great palace of the later 
Sargon, father of Sennacherib, a building 
founded in the eighth century before our era. 
There were five of these inscribed plates all of 
different metals, gold, silver, antimony, copper, 

66 LEADWORK [sect. 

and lead ; the four former are in the Louvre, 
but the lead, which must thus have been of some 
size, " was too heavy to be carried off at once " ; 
it was dispatched by raft, and was lost with most 
of the collection. The inscription, translated by 
Oppert, ends with the imprecation on disturbers 
which it has been the wont of great builders in 
all times to conjure. 

" May the great Lord Assur destroy from the 
face of this country the name and race of him 
who shall injure the works of my hands or who 
shall carry off my treasure." 

At Dodona many tablets of lead have been 
found inscribed in Greek ; these are questions to 
the oracle of that shrine. 

In the British Museum there are several tablets 
inscribed in Greek about the area of this book 
and covered with text, they are for the most part 
imprecations on the heads of injurious persons, 
and were hid as a magic rite in Temple enclosures. 
They are quite little stories. 

" Imprecation of Antigone against her ac- 

" Imprecation of Prosodion against those who 
misled her husband Nakron." 

" Imprecations of a woman against some one 
who stole her bracelet." 

Pausanias mentions having seen a text of 
Hesiod which was inscribed on lead leaves ; and 
Pliny also tells us of lead books. A lead 
inscribed tablet was found in the Roman 




remains at Lydney slightly scratched with a 

Of the Carlovingian age there are examples of 
lead documents in the British Museum ; one 
being an edict of Charlemagne himself, in which 
he assumes the style of Emperor of the West ; 

+ lbIC:IKC€T; 

l-« M /^*^ *> ^ 



Fig. 32. — Heart Box of King Richard. 

and It bears his well-known cypher and the date, 
1 8th Sept., 801. Another is signed Ludovic 
(Louis the Younger), 822. In the Londes- 
borough collection there is a leaden book-cover 
of Saxon work with an inscription from ^Elfric's 

f 2 






For sepulchral use lead is especially fitted ; it 
was customary in the twelfth century to inscribe 
a tablet or cross and to place it in the coffin 
on the breast of the dead. 

In the Museum at Bruges there is a tablet 
with a long inscription to Gunilda the sister of 
Harold.^ Two were found at Canterbury of the 

thirteenth century with 
lines of beautifullydrawn 
Lombard capitals in in- 
cised outline with lines 
ruled between each row.^ 
In 1838 was dis- 
covered in Rouen Cathe- 
dral choir the heart 
casket of Lion-hearted 
Richard, there were two 
boxes, one within the 
other, the inner one, 
covered inside with thin 
silver leaf, was inscribed 
with the simple words 
given in Fig. 32 from 
Archaologia (xxix). 

A cruciform tablet is 
given in Camden ^ with 
an inscription purport- 
ing to record King 
Arthur ; the form shows that it was made in the 
twelfth century. In the fifteenth century Chron- 

^ Archceologia, xxv. * Ibid. xlv. ' Folio, plate v. vol. i. 


Fig, 33. — Inscribed Cross. 


icle of Capgrave, under the year 1 1 70, he writes — 
" In these days was Arthures body founde in the 
cherch yerd at Glaskinbury in a hoJ hok, a crosse 
of Jed leyd to a ston and the letteris hid betwyx 
the ston and the led." He gives Giraldus, 
" whech red it," as his authority. Giraldus 
Cambrensis gives the inscription as " Hie jacet 
sepultus inclytus Rex Arthurus cum Wennevereia 
uxore sua secunda in Insula Avalonia."^ 

Now William of Malmesbury, who died about 
1 145, says distinctly that the tomb of Arthur 
had never been found, so this dates the fabrica- 
tion of this cross by the monks of Glastonbury 
always so especially greedy of relics, as within a 
year or two of this time when Giraldus saw it 
(" quam nos quoque vidimus " ). The inscription 
on the lead cross engraved by Camden agrees 
word for word with the exception of " with 
Guenevere his second wife." Must we not sup- 
pose that Giraldus here improved even upon the 
monks, and added this poetic touch himself? 

Few of these absolution crosses have been 
found abroad ; one discovered in Perigord was 
inscribed on the arms lvx . pax . rex . lex. 

Wall tablets in churches are represented by 
one at Burford in Shropshire, the monument of 
Lady Corbett, 1 5 1 6. Her effigy is incised under 
a canopy much like the brasses of the same time, 
and it suggests simple decorative possibilities, 
such as filling cavities with mastics of several 

^ Capgrave, in Rolls Series. 

70 LEADWORK [sect. 

colours, parcel gilding, damascening in brass 
wire, or inlay of metal on metal. 

In Saltash Church, Cornwall, a lead tablet 
records that "This Chappie was repaired in the 
Mmrty of Matthew Veale, Gent. Anno 1689." 

Inscriptions may be either cast with raised 
letters, engraved like the early ones, or punched. 
Ornamental borders might also be made up of 
punched lines, loops and dots. 

Of Coat Arms there was an instance at Jacques 
Coeur's house in Bourges, which is quite a lead 
mine. The Angel shield bearer alone remains. 

with signs of the erasure of the arms. In London, 
about Copthall Buildings, in the City, are several 
tablets with the arms of the " Armorers Brasiers," 
as also a large number of shields of cast lead with 
dates and initials or names of the City wards. 
The insurance companies also used shields of 
stamped lead. 


In Vere Street, Clare Market, over the angle 
of what is at present a baker's shop, there is a 
panel with two negroes' heads in relief, and the 
legend " S. W. M. 17 15." 

We began with a foundation inscription, we 
will conclude with one twenty-six centuries later. 
This is a large cast plate of lead 3*6 by 2*4 and 
an inch thick, now preserved in the Guildhall 
Museum, which was laid in the foundation of old 
Blackfriars, then Pitt Bridge : — 

" On the last day of October in the year 1760 
and in the beginning of the most auspicious 
reign of George III., Sir Thomas Chitty, Knight, 
Lord Mayor, laid the first stone of this bridge 
undertaken by the Common Council of London 
(in the height of an extensive war) for the 
public accommodation and ornament of the city 
(Robert Milne being the architect) and that 
there may remain to posterity a monument of 
this city's affection to the man who by the 
strength of his genius, the steadiness of his mind, 
and a kind of happy contagion of his probity 
and spirit, under the divine favour and fortunate 
auspices of George II., recovered, augmented 
and secured the British Empire in Asia, Africa, 
and America, and restored the ancient reputation 
and influence of his country amongst the nations 
of Europe. 

" The Citizens of London have unanimously 
voted this bridge to be inscribed with the name 
of William Pitt." 


ONE of the most usual methods of 
decorating lead was to gild it ; whole 
domes were gilt in this way. The 
dome of St. Sophia at Constantinople seems to 
have been so treated, and the great arc of gold 
dominating such an Eastern city must have been 
a most impressive sight. Many of the late 
domes are partly gilt, as at the Invalides in Paris. 
The roof of the ancient basilica at Tours is said 
to have been like " a mountain of gold." 

Old recipe books of the last century give 
instructions for gilding lead. The following are 
examples : — 

"Take two pounds of yellow ochre, half a 
pound of red lead, and one ounce of varnish, 
with which grind your ochre, but the red lead 
grind with oil ; temper them both together ; lay 
your ground with this upon the lead, and when it 
is almost dry, lay your gold ; let it be thoroughly 
dry before you polish it." 

For another ground — " Take varnish of linseed 
oil, red lead, white lead and turpentine ; boil in 
a pipkin and grind together on a stone." 


" Or take sheets of tinfoil, and grind them in 
common gold size ; with this wipe your pewter 
or lead over ; lay on your leaf gold and press it 
with cotton ; it is a fine gilding, and has a 
beautiful lustre." 

Dutch metal was also used on a ground of 
varnish and red lead, as in second recipe ; or gilt 
leaves of tinfoil on white lead ground in linseed 
oil, this last took a polish "as if it had been 
gilded in fire." Dutch metal should be lacquered 
on the surface. A cheap substitute for gilding 
could doubtless be made for large surfaces by 
laying tinfoil lacquered gold colour. Or for 
statues the surface of the lead might be made 
bright and lacquered. 

The external gilding on the Ste. Chapelle 
in Paris was done in leaf gold on two coats of 

Smaller decorative objects of lead in the 
middle ages were often entirely gilt or parcel gilt 
in patterns ; for instance, in an inventory of 1 553 
we find an altar cross " of lead florysshed withe 
golde foyle." The effect of silver is obtained 
by "tinning" with solder, and when this is 
intended to form patterns on the surface of the 
lead the method is thus described by Surges. 
The surface is coated with lamp black mixed 
with size ; the pattern is either transferred on it 
or drawn direct and then marked round with a 
point ; all the part to be tinned has the surface 
removed by a " shave hook " so as to leave the 

74 LEADWORK [sect. 

pattern quite bright, a little sweet oil is rubbed 
over this and the solder is applied and spread in 
the usual way of soldering with a " copper bit/' 
This is more conveniently done in the shop, but 
the spire at Chalons was decorated in this way 
long after the lead covering was finished. A 
specimen of this work prepared by Burges may 
be seen in the Architectural Museum, West- 

Transparent colour was often applied over 
this tinning, which, shining through, gave it 
lustre ; or the tinning alternated with the 
colour as in chevrons of tin and blue and red. 
We may suppose that this sort of work was done 
in England, for some leaded spires shown in the 
paintings at St. Stephen's Chapel, Westminster, 
were coloured vermilion and gold, or green and 
white, in chevrons following the leading. 

Stow also tells us that at the Priory of St. John 
of Jerusalem, Clerkenwell, rebuilt after a fire in 
1 38 1, there was a steeple decorated in this way 
which remained to his day and was then destroyed. 
"The great bell tower, a most curious piece of work- 
manship, graven, gilt, and enamelled, to the great 
beautifying of the city, and passing all others 
that I have seen." 

Rain-pipe heads at Knole have patterns formed 
in this way by bright tin applied to the surface. 
There are also heads of water pipes at the 
Bodleian and at St. John's College, Oxford (see 
Figs. 71 and 72), treated all over with patterns of 



chequers and zig-zags. 
Those at St. John's 
have cast coats of arms 
in wreaths brightly em- 
blazoned in gold and 
colours. The collars to 
the pipes are painted 
with patterns, as also 
are some^ipes at Fram- 
lingham, Suffolk. 

Sometimes the pat- 
tern was incised on the 
lead in deep broad lines, 
and these, when filled 
with black mastic, traced 
the pattern without any 
tinning. An example of 
this methodisfound in a 
ridge and finial sketched 
at Bourges — the hearts 
and scallop shell 
were badges of Jacques 
Cceur, Other portions 
of the lead work at this 
house are decorated by 
patterns in lamp-black 
painted on the lead. See 
the ridge and examples 
of flashings drawn in 
Figures 36 and 37. A 
ridge designed for St. 




Vincent's Church at Rouen, of which a drawing 
is preserved, is a beautiful instance of this treat- 
ment ; it is divided into lengths in which branches 
with leaves and flowers alternate with a stifFer 
pattern. The spire before spoken of, at 
Chalons-sur-Marne, furnishes the finest example 

of these methods used 
in combination. See 
drawings in Builder^ 
1856, and in the sketch 
book of the Architec- 
tural Association for 
1883, both by Surges. 
This decoration is of 
the fourteenth century 
and is thus described by 
sheets of lead were 
engraved in outlines 
and filled in with black 
material, of which traces 
may yet be seen. 
Painting and gilding 
illuminated the spaces 
between these black lines, and we must observe 
that nearly all the lead work of the middle ages 
was thus decorated by paintings applied to the 
metal by means of an energetic mordant. The 
plumber's art of the middle ages is wrought out 
like colossal goldsmith's work, and we have 
found striking correspondence between the two 

Fig. 36. — Painted Decoration, 


arts as well in the methods of application as in 
the forms admitted : gilding and applied colour 
here replace enamel.". The design is of taber- 
nacle work with figures and the whole was clearly 
intended to recall a 
shrine of goldsmith's 
work. Large engraved 
patterns filled with 
black used alone on the 
silvery lead become 
great niellos., exactly 
parallel to the method 
of treating silver. 

The fleche called 
" the golden " at 
Amiens retains traces 
of arabesque patterns 
on grounds of bright 
blue and vermilion. 

Repousse by ham- 
mering, another method 
most appropriate to the 
material, was more used 
in France than with us, 
where casting has been 
throughout the chief means for obtaining relief 
decoration. In France the finials were mostly 
formed in this way. " Recalling the best gold- 
smith's work of the epoch," withal so easily and 
carelessly wrought that it is plain that they were 
done at once without pattern and yet with 

78 LEADWORK [sect. 

ample knowledge of the ultimate form desired ; 
so a leaf cut out of a sheet is hammered and 
twisted till it cups and curls itself into living 

In these finials applied castings were also used, 
and at the end of the fifteenth century they 
superseded repousse for a time. Many of the 
moulds in stone and plaster, for the ornaments 
which were used on the roofs and fimals at 


Beaune are preserved. The castings were not 
so free and decorative however as those done by 

Of piercing into delicate tracery the pipe- 
heads at Haddon give many charming examples. 
At Aston Hall, Warwickshire, the curved lead 
roofs of the turrets have all round the eaves a 
brattlshing of pierced sheet in simple scroll 
work, it stands up freely and gives a dainty 
finish : the pattern is something like that above. 


In the East pierced valances of this kind are very 
general ; the roofs of the larger fountains at 
Constantinople are usually finished in this way. 
Fig. 38 is from the portico roof of the 
Dome of the Rock at Jerusalem drawn from a 
photograph. Casting and piercing were also 
combined, the pattern being strengthened thus 
by ribs and the veins, and interspaces being cut 

In small Japanese work brass is sometimes 
inlaid into lead or pewter in the form of flowers, 
which are further defined by surface engraving. 
Engraving on sheet lead similar to the old 
memorial brasses has been mentioned before, and 
we may go on to look at the decorative pro- 
cesses in which lead was used applied to other 


LEAD trappings and appendages have often 
been applied to stone statues. The 
sceptres and bishops' crosses of the fine 
fourteenth century statues of St. Mary's spire 
at Oxford are of wrought lead. The leaves of 
the sceptre heads and the crosses are embossed 
out in two pieces and then soldered at the edges. 
Inlaying of lead in stone slabs making 
grisaille designs was a method much used — 
a magnificent example remains in the pavement 
at St. Remy, Rheims (formerly in the choir of 
St. Nicaise in the same town), where foliated 
panels with figure subjects from Scripture are 
made out on the stones ; it is a work of the early 
fourteenth century.^ We have in England an 
example of this treatment in a tomb slab at St. 
Mary RedclifFe, Bristol, and there is mention of 
the process in the account by William of Malmes- 
bury of the Saxon part of the " Ealde Chirche" 
at Glastonbury. We may well suppose this was 
an imitation in the national material of Roman 

1 See Viollet-le-Duc, " Dallage." 


mosaic. The floor was " inlaid with polished 
stone . . . moreover in the pavement may be 
remarked on every side stone designedly interlaid 
in triangles and squares and figured with lead^ 
under which if I believe some sacred enigma to 
be contained I do no injustice to religion. The 
antiquity and multitude of its saints have 
endowed the place with so much sanctity that 
at night scarcely anyone presumes to keep vigil 
there or during the day to spit upon its floor . . . 
and certainly the more magnificent the ornaments 
of churches are the more they incline the brute 
mind to prayer and bend the stubborn to 

The method is still followed in lettering on 
tombs and the like : the design is engraved in 
the marble and holes are drilled with a bow drill 
in the sunk parts, some inclined at an angle to 
give a better hold ; strips of lead of sufficient 
substance are then hammered into the casements 
with a wooden mallet, and the superfluous metal 
removed with a sharp chisel. 

Some of the sixteenth and seventeenth century 
engraved brasses have portions of the arms, etc., 
inlaid in lead in the brass ; there are instances of 
this in Westminster Abbey. Lead might also 
be inlaid in cast iron with good eff'ect, where it 
has not to be painted : the recesses would be 
left in the casting of either cast brass or cast 
iron. The stars that spangle the ceilings of 
churches on a blue ground are usually of cast 


82 LEADWORK [sect. 

lead gilt. The ceiling of the well-known panel 
and rib kind attributed to Holbein at the 
Chapel Royal, St. James's had the enrichments 
in the panels of lead. Chimney-pieces were also 
decorated in the same way, and even furniture 
is found at times with applied badges of gilt 
lead. These methods it must be understood are 
not all recommended here, they are only re- 

The delicate applied enrichments so much 
used in work influenced by the practice of the 
Brothers Adam are in the best work of lead ; 
cast with extraordinary delicacy in relief figure 
panels, after the manner of the antique, or fragile 
garlands, vases, and frets. Much of this work 
was used in the internal decoration at Somerset 
House. The accounts under 1780 show pay- 
ments to Edward Watson — for lead pateras 
from 2^ J. to 10^. each ; nineteen ornamental 
friezes to chimney pieces ^10 17 J. Sd. ; lead 
frieze to the bookcases in the Royal Academy 
Library at 2s. 6d. per foot ; 137 feet run of 
large lead frieze in the exhibition room at 4J. 
Dutch bracket clocks of the eighteenth century 
have pierced and gilt ornamentations of 

This method of applying pierced lead to wood 
was known in the middle ages. In the Kensing- 
ton Museum there is a delicate openwork panel, 
three inches square, which with others, decorated 
the front of a fourteenth century chest in the 


church at Newport, Essex. A beautiful little 
panel of open work, which contains the subject 
of the Annunciation, was found some years since 
in the Thames. One of the last instances of 
this decorative use of lead is on the great doors 
of Inwood's church, at St. Pancras, where the 
panels are filled with reliefs and the margins 
have the palmette border. At Christchurch, 
Hampshire, some of the tracery panels at the 
back of the stalls have been replaced in lead. 

The front door fanlights so well known in 
the London houses of the eighteenth century 
were made by applying lead castings to a backing 
of iron. Even staircase balustrades were cast 
in panels of lattice work of hard lead and fixed 
between iron standards some three or four feet 


A GREAT number of small objects in lead 
are in our museums, and first we should 
mention the medals and plaques of the 
great masters of the Renaissance. Lead will 
cast with more delicacy than any other material, 
and Cellini especially recommended it for proofs. 
The proofs of the great work of the medallists, 
— the modelling just a film, fading into the 
background — presentments and allegories of 
the Malatestas and Gonzagas by Pisanello and 
Sperandio, are certainly the most precious things 
ever formed in lead. There are a great number 
of these medals and decorative plaques in the 
British Museum and at Kensington. 

For coins in lead see Gaetani and Fiscorni. 
For tokens and pilgrim badges, of which a great 
number have been fouitd in the Seine, see 
Gazette des Beaux Arts^ Vol. VI. and XVIII. 
Some of these remind us of the lead figures 
that, according to " Quentin Durward," Louis 
XI. wore in his hat. At the Guildhall there 


is a collection of hundreds of these small 
objects found in the Thames ; most are of 
great delicacy, many very beautiful. There 
are, in the British Museum, little Greek ob- 
jects, rings and toys, armlets of a snake pattern, 
and pierced ornaments for applying to other 

Other objects in the Kensington Museum 
are : — A small tankard only two and a half 
inches diameter but modelled with figures in low 
relief, it is German of the sixteenth or seven- 
teenth century ; a pair of little inkstands the 
circular drums modelled with foliage and pro- 
jecting top and bottom rims, also German ; and 
a square canister with panel of St. George on 
each face. 

Another is a beautiful little Gothic box of the 
fourteenth century. It is hexagonal, with three 
feet, a flat hinged cover has a sitting lion which 
forms the knob, a slight relief of the Annuncia- 
tion under a canopy, and two shields of arms. 
Round the sides are delicate bands of foliage and 
Gothic lettering ; it is three and a half inches 
high, and of cast lead. There are other por- 
tions of little Gothic boxes in the British Museum. 
At Gloucester Museum there is a square box 
of late fifteenth century work, the sides formed 
of four cast panels of lead, soldered at the 
angles. The panels all repeat the same 
relief of the dead Christ and the Virgin, 

86 LEADWORK [sect. xii. 

right and left are the other two Marys, and 
the background bears the cross, crown, spears, 
dice, and all the implements of the Passion.^ 
Small canisters, and candlesticks the stems of 
which are formed of a little lead figure, were 
made quite recently. 

^ See Antiquary, Feb., 1893, 


THIS subject, in which lead is only second- 
ary, has been treated so often by others 
in connection with glass that little 
more need be said here. 

Already, when Theophilus wrote his treatise ' 
on the arts, some time from the tenth to the 
twelfth century, leaded glazing of coloured glass 
was practised much as we do it now, and he 
describes how the leads were cast with the two 
grooves for the glass and how it was put to- 
gether on a table. Coloured glass windows 
were placed in the Basilica at Lyons in the fifth 
century, as described in the letters of Sidonius. 
From the thirteenth century there are crowds 
of examples of glazing wholly of white glass in 
which patterns are made by the arrangement of 
the leads. In the cathedrals of north France, 
especially Bayeux, Coutances, Mantes, and 
through Brittany, most elaborate patterns of 
this kind fill the windows ; not only diapers but 
interlacing bands, over and under in effect, and 
this in plain white glass. This method does not 
seem to have been followed here, where for the 



most part, unless in colour arrangements, the 
leading for church windows was in plain lozenges 
and parallelograms. 

Later, however, in houses, pattern glazing, 

sometimes of an elaborate kind, is found, 

especially in the north of England, at Moreton 

Hall in Cheshire, at Bramhall, and at Levens in 

Westmorland. In some 

parts the glass may not 

be more than a circle 

or diamond of an inch 


These patterns have 
been amply treated in 
other places, and we may 
consider those that have 
a diapered pattern all 
over the light to belong 
rather to the glass than 
the lead. There are 
others, however, In which 
the lead lines are made 
still more important by being arranged in a 
single intricate panel to each light, the centre 
usually being charged with an heraldic device. 
Two simple examples are given in Figs. 39 
and 40. 

There is one point to speak of in regard to 
the fretted patterns not usually noticed. The 
frets are sometimes leaded up so that the glass 
does not He in one plane, but there is an 



intentional change, so that the 
faces of glass reflect the light 
differently in a uniform man- 
ner all over the window, the 
forward panes being some 
-^ or ^ inch in front of the 
plane of the inner ones and 
between them others are placed 
obliquely. This is best known 
in Holland, but a similar 
practice was followed at Levens in Westmor- 

Lozenges of lead pierced for ventilation, either 
one or several together, are sometimes found ; 
they are cast with a delicate pattern, or cut in a 
lattice. Some of the best are in the museum of 
Fountains Abbey, others are at Ely and at 
Haddon. Fig. 41 is from a Surrey cottage. 


THE making of lead statues was frequent up 
to the end of the 1 8th century, and then 
more frequent than at any other time, to 
cease at once on the introduction of the Italian 
plaster model shops, which in the eyes of the con- 
noisseurs of the time brought with them a time of 
purer taste, the taste whose god was the Apollo 
of the Belvidere. 

These statues of lead were known to the 
ancients. There was one of Mamurius at 

In the middle ages there were not only small 
cast lead figures like those around the font at 
Ashover and a figure from a crucifix now in the 
library of Wells Cathedral which is about 12 
inches high, of 15th century work, but figures 
full size and more were also made ; this was 
especially the case in France ; these, however, were 
generally repousse. 

In the garden of the Cluny Museum in Paris 
is a fine figure of St. John Evangelist, fully 
eight feet high ; it is of early 14th century work, 

^ Fosbroke, Ency. Antiq. 


and looks as if it had stood at the central pier of 
a doorway. 

At Moissac, in the south of France, is a most 
remarkable work of lead, a tomb, above which 
is a lead sarcophagus and several figures repre- 
senting the entombment of Christ, who is being 
laid in the open coffin. It is 15th century 
work ; the figures, six in all, are full of character 
and vigour like the wooden statuary of the time. 
It appears from a photograph to be cast in 
separate portions. 

The figures formed by repousse usually serve 
as finials on the roof, or stand in niches of the 
fleche. In the great fleche at Amiens there 
are six figures as large as life, with other smaller 
figures of angels which hold emblems of the 
Passion. M. Viollet-le-Duc says these figures 
were nearly always embouties that is to say 
hammered out on a wooden model in portions, 
and soldered together. The artist had to be 
careful that the model should be thin and " dry " 
so the thickness of the lead should not make it 
too coarse in the forms. Surges cites an account 
of 1 5 14 of a payment to John Pothyn, sculptor, 
for having carved a prophet in walnut wood to 
serve as a mould and pattern to the lead-workers. 
Sometimes the lead casing was put on with lapp- 
ing joints, the skeleton frame being iron. 

There are not now in England lead statues of 
any size executed during the middle ages ; 
but magnificent figures of bronze cast by the 

92 LEADWORK [sect. 

cire perdu method remain to us. The effigy of 
Queen Eleanor at Westminster cannot be 
matched in Europe. 

The founder's art was carried to much perfec- 
tion in Germany in the 15th and i6th centuries. 
Mr. Seymour Haden has in Hampshire a statue 
of a city herald of lead which formerly be- 
longed to the great clock at Nuremburg. 

Many statues of lead were set up in English 
towns after the earlier Renaissance, they are our 
national version of the bronze of Italy, a 
material which we used but little ; such bronze 
statues as were cast here since the middle ages 
seem to have been the work of foreigners. Le 
Sieur, for instance, did the statue of Charles II. 
at Charing Cross, and many others. The statue 
of Queen Anne that was to surmount Gibbs' 
proposed column in the Strand was ordered in 

At Bristol there is a large Neptune of lead 
roughly modelled ; the limbs are contorted with 
too much life and yet it is a decorative feature in 
the centre of a wide street. On the pedestal has 
been engraved a little history of the statue, an 
example that might be followed — " Neptune, 
cast and given a.d. 1588 by a citizen of Temple 
parish to commemorate the defeat of the Spanish 
Armada. Re-erected on its fourth site in 1 872." 
This seems to be a tradition unsubstantiated by 
record, but the time is not so remote that it may 
not as well be true, especially as the style of the 


figure would seem to agree with the date named. 
The story says that It was the gift of a plumber in 
the town, the metal being that of the captured 
ships' pumps. 

At Bungay in Suffolk there used to be a large 
statue at the Market Cross known as " Astraea.'' 

One of the most interesting portrait statues in 
London, the Queen Anne at Queen Anne's Gate, 
Westminster, is of lead. The surface ornament on 
the robes is especially appropriate to the material. 
There is also in Golden Square a statue of 
George II. which seems to be nearly a repeat of 
the stone statue on Bloomsbury steeple ; it 
suggested the statue in Fred Walker's picture, 
" The Harbour of Refuge." 

There were also many full size equestrian 
statues founded in this metal, that of George I., 
until 1 874 in Leicester Square, was one of these, 
and like the last it was brought from Canons, the 
celebrated house of the Duke of Chandos at 
Edgware, dismantled about 1747. The George I. 
resembled Le Sieur's statue at Charing Cross 
and was known as the Golden Horse, for the 
whole was gilt, as many of the statues seem to 
have been at Canons, in that garden where, ac- 
cording to Pope, " The trees were clipped like 
statues — ^the statues thick as trees." 

The statue of William of Orange at Dublin is 
another of these, and it is celebrated alike in 
political demonstrations and Catholic polemics. 
Cardinal Newman wrote of it, " The very flower 

94 LEADWORK [sect. 

and cream of Protestantism used to glory in the 
statue of King William on College Green, Dublin, 
and though I cannot make any reference in print 
I recollect well what a shriek they raised some 
years ago when the figure was unhorsed. Some 
profane person one night applied gunpowder and 
blew the king right out of his saddle, and he was 
found by those who took interest in him, like 
Dagon, on the ground." 

Yet another equestrran statue is that of Charles 
the Second at Edinburgh, set up by the magis- 
trates of the city in Parliament Square, in honour 
of the restoration of the king. A writer in the 
Athenaum for April 13th, 1850, speaks of it as 
the " finest piece of statuary in Edinburgh," and 
urges the suitability of lead for the purpose. 
" In Black* s Guide through Edinburgh it is spoken 
of as the best specimen of bronze statuary which 
Edinburgh possesses ; it is, however, composed of 
lead. Nowthisleaden equestrian statue hasalready 
without sensible deterioration stood the test of 
1 65 years' (in 1 850) exposure to the weather, and 
it still seems as fresh as if erected but yesterday." 
Some years before this, one of the interior irons 
having given way, a part of the shoulder sank a 
a little and it was taken down and repaired and 
sufficiently proved to be lead. Taking the 
figures above, it appears that the date of this 
work is 1685. 

Mr. James Nasmyth also wrote to the Athen- 
aurn^ June, 1850, "to confirm as a practical man 


the perfect fitness of lead " as a substitute for 
bronze, and to recommend the cire perdu method 
of casting, at that time discontinued in England ; 
the process being to model the statue in wax on 
a solid core, to cast in plaster the finished wax 
model, and then to melt out the wax from this 
plaster mould, the space which it occupied being 
refilled with lead. Of course only one cast can 
be obtained in this way, whereas the old decorative 
statues spoken of later were cast in a piece mould 
and reproduced again and again. 

" The addition (still quoting) of about five 
per cent, of antimony will give it not only greater 
hardness but enhance its capability to run into 
the most delicate details. . . it is in every sense 
as durable as bronze when subject simply to 
atmospheric action." 

We shall see that an addition of block tin was 
made to the lead by the old figure founders. Type 
metal, which is so much harder than lead, is an 
alloy of lead and ^ to ^ of antimony, or of two 
parts of lead to one of tin and one of antimony. 

In the courtyard of Houghton Tower, Lan- 
cashire, there is a statue of William III. 
brought from the dismantled Walton-le-Dale 
in 1834. 

The statues decorating the parapets of the large 
" classic " country houses are at times of lead ; 
there are five of these at Lyme in Cheshire. 
Over the portico of the Clarendon at Oxford 
there are four of these statues representing the 

96 LEADWORK [sect. 

sciences. Until recently there was a figure of 
King James high up in a niche at the Bodleian. 

The figures of the good little boy and girl 
common at charity schools are also often of lead. 
The great Percy lion that surmounted old 
Northumberland House at Charing Cross (de- 
stroyed twenty years ago) is now on the river 
front of Syon House ; it weighs about three tons, 
and it was placed in its original position in 1749. 
The lion on the bridge at Alnwick is also of 
lead, as the little boy found to his cost who 
climbed out on its tail. 

There are a series of lead busts in oval panels 
on the front of Ham House, Petersham, Surrey, 
1 6 10 being the date of its erection. 

Before passing into the garden a word on the 
practical details of casting as traditionally followed 
may be added. The casting of lead statues is 
much the same process as founding in bronze, 
but it is simpler from the much lower tempera- 
ture at which lead flows, and the ease with which 
limbs can be cast separately and joined to the body. 
The technical details may be found in a text-book 
of modelling and casting — Mouler en Pldtre^ 
Plomb^ &c*(Lebrun, Paris, i860). The course 
followed is to cut up the model in such parts as 
is determined, to mould these in loam, the cores 
are then cast in plaster after the thickness that 
will be occupied by the lead has been first applied 
to the moulds in sand (terre). The cores are 
then removed and dried and baked, for in this as 


in all founding everything depends on the absolute 
dryness of the mould. After the first mould had 
been added to, for the casting of the core, a 
second mould would be prepared from the original 
figure and the core supported in that by irons. 
The castings are then made, and the portions 
reunited and finished on the surface. Large works 
have to be sufficiently supported with internal 
irons. All the mysteries of vents, and false 
coring when necessary, can only be understood 
by practical familiarity with founding. 

Modern figures for Dundee were cast from 
plaster ; cast iron also makes good moulds. 

If the roof is the place for those earlier 
figures formed by repousse, the garden is rightly 
inhabited by cast lead statues. It is a material 
in which the designer might well permit himself 
slightness, caprice, or even triteness. A statue 
that would be tame in stone, or contemptible 
in marble, may well be a charming decoration 
if only in lead, set in the vista of a green walk 
against a dark yew hedge or broad-leaved fig, 
or where the lilac waves its plumes above them 
and the syringa thrusts its flowers under their 
arms arid shakes its petals on the pedestal. 
" How charming it must be to walk in one's 
own garden, and sit on a bench in the open air 
with a fountain and a leaden statue and a rolling- 
stone and an arbour. Have a care though of 
sore throat and the agoe} " 

^ Gray's Letter from Pembroke Coll. , 1 769. 



When sculptors learn again that their art 
is to shape many materials in various ways for 
diverse uses, and that a statue is not necessarily 
of whitest marble or to be exhibited on the i st 
of May, then we may get back the delight 
of sculpture in the garden. 

Sculptured marble, unless the art is of a high 
order, does, not please us out of doors by a pond 
or on a terrace, if it is not weathered down to 
a ruin, but lead is homely and ordinary and 
not too good to receive the graffiti of lovers' 
knots, red letter dates and initials. Here is a 
sketch of a Mercury not at all too fine for further 
decoration of this sort ; it came from a London 
sale room, the surface was quite white and ex- 
foliated like old stone. The jaunty messenger 
has a garden thought too, for it is honeycomb 
in his hand. 

One of the best known of these garden 
statues was a group of Cain and Abel that so 
recently gave an interest to the great grass quad 
of Brasenose College, Oxford. It was given 
by Dr. Clarke, of All Souls, " who bought it of 
some London statuary." Hearne speaks of it 
as " some silly statue " — superiority has always 
been the greatest enemy to beauty. Forty or 
fifty years ago there was a Mercury in Tom 
Quad which has also been improved away. 

Our next example fulfils a purpose. It is 
the sun-dial formerly in Clement's Inn, which was 
known locally as the " Blackamoor." It is 

H 2 

tlG 43.— SuQ-dial, Temple Gari 


strongly, if simply modelled, a piece of art full 
of character, and we may be glad that it has 
been restored to us although now placed in the 
gardens of the Inner Temple, instead of before 
the " Garden House " in Clement's Inn. 

The negro is the full size of life and bears 
the stone disc of the dial on his head with one 
hand, the other being free. The dial is beauti- 
fully engraved and is signed on the edge of the 
gnomon Ben Scott in the Strand Londini Fecit. 
The sides have the initials of the donor, P. I. P., 
and the date, 1731. Mr. Hare in his Walks 
in London states that it was brought from 
Italy late in the seventeenth century by Holies 
Lord Clare, whose name is preserved in the 
neighbouring Clare market. This statement is 
also found in Thornbury's Old and New London^ 
and the statue is said to be bronze, which it is 
not, nor do the initials and date above agree 
with Mr. Hare's statement, who goes on to 
remark that " there are similar figures at Knows- 
ley, and at Arley in Cheshire," but he does not 
say if these also were brought from Italy by Lord 

No authority is given by Mr. Hare, but his 
statement is in the main a transcript from John 
Thomas Smith, who also gives the verses quoted 
by Mr. Hare, said to have been attached to the 
statue on one occasion with a pitying reference 
to the legal atmosphere the African had to 
breathe. That it was brought from Italy is 

102 LEADWORK [sect. 

seemingly local gossip added to the account of 
Mr. Smith who knew well enough the English 
workshop, as we shall see, where these figures 
were made. 

Similar figures are mentioned by this writer in 
his gossiping Antiquarian Rambles in London in 
which he wrote the memories of his own travels 
in the streets in the beginning of the present 
century, and gives quite a history of this 
"despicable manufactory." The founding of 
these lead garden statues seems specially to have 
been an industry of the eighteenth century ; with 
the dreary opening of the nineteenth " a purer 
taste," so we are assured, banished these and 
most other charms of an old-fashioned garden. 
" In Piccadilly, on the site of the houses east of 
the Poulteney Hotel including that, now No. 
1 02, stood the original leaden figure yard, founded 
by John Van Nost, a Dutch sculptor, who came to 
England with King William III. His eflFects 
were sold March, 17 11." As late as 1763 a 
John Van Nost (supposed descendant of the 
former) was following the profession of a statu- 
ary in St. Martin's Lane, on the left, a little 
farther up than where the old brick houses 
now stand in 1893. The original business 
was taken in 1739 by Mr. John Cheere, who 
served his time with his brother. Sir H. Cheere, 
the statuary who did several of the Abbey 

"This despicable manufactory must still be 


within memory, as the attention of nine persons 
in ten were arrested by these garden ornaments. 
The figures were cast in lead as large as life and 
frequently painted with an intention to resemble 
nature. They consisted of Punch, Harlequin, 
Columbine and other pantomimical characters ; 
mowers whetting their scythes ; haymakers 
resting on their rakes ; gamekeepers shooting ; 
and Roman soldiers with firelocks ; but above 
all an African kneeling with a sundial upon his 
head found the most extensive sale. 

" For these imaginations in lead there were 
other workshops in Piccadilly, viz., Dickenson's, 
which stood on the site of the Duke of 
Gloucester's house, Manning's at the corner 
of White Horse Street, and Carpenter's, that 
stood where Egmont house afterwards stood. 
" All the above four figure yards were in high 
vogue about the year 1740. They certainly had 
casts from some of the finest works of art, the 
Apollo Belvidere, the Venus de Medici, &c., but 
these leaden productions, although they found 
numerous admirers and purchasers, were never 
countenanced by men of taste ; for it is well 
known that when application was made to the 
Earl of Burlington for his sanction he always 
spoke of them with sovereign contempt, observ- 
ing that the uplifted arms of leaden figures, in 
consequence of the pliability and weight of the 
material, would in course of time appear little 
better than crooked billets . . . There has not been 

104 LEAD WORK [sect. 

a leaden figure manufactory in London since the 
year 1787, when Mr. Cheere died." 

Walpole knew little of these lead-working 
sculptors, his only notice occurring under 
" Carpentier or Charpentiere " — our Carpenter 
above — " a statuary much employed by the 
Duke of Chandos at Canons, was for some years 
principal assistant to Van Ost (our Van Nost) 
an artist of whom I have found no memorials, 
and afterwards set up for himself. Towards the 
end of his life he kept a manufactory of leaden 
statues in Piccadilly and died in 1737, aged 
above sixty." The original Van Nost came 
from Mechlin, and married in England the 
widow of another Dutch sculptor. 

In the account books of the building of 
Somerset House the following entry, which 
occurs under 1778, is interesting as showing 
John Cheere working on particular works, and 
for giving us the composition of the metal 
and the price. " John Cheere, figure maker ; 
to moulding, casting, and finishing four large 
sphinxes in a strong substantial manner, lead 
and block tin, at each ;^3i." 

It is curious if Lord Burlington gave the 
critical dictum attributed to him, that there were 
so many lead garden statues at his villa at 
Chiswicic, in 1892 dismantled by the Duke of 
Devonshire. Doubtless they belonged to that 
garden described by Walpole as in the Italian 
taste, where " the lavish quantity of urns and 


sculpture behind the garden front should be 
retrenched," a wish that time accomplishes. 
There was a Bacchus, a Venus, an Achilles, a 
Samson, and Cain and Abel. 

In the first quadrangle at Knole there are two 
good reproductions of the antique, one being a 
crouching Venus. In the courtyard of Burton 
Agnes in Yorkshire stands a Fighting Gladiator. 

Studley Royal, near Ripon, is a fine example 
of the best effort of park-gardening, if the 
phrase be allowed, for the term "landscape 
gardening " is degraded to mean productions in 
the cemetery style, an affair of wriggling paths, 
little humps, and nursery specimens, which might 
best be described as cemetery gardenings and 
between which and the manner of Kent there 
is no parallel. Here lakes in ordered circles 
and crescents occupy the grassy flat between 
hanging woods, and several groups of lead 
statuary stand above the water. 

In the beautiful old gardens at Melbourne in 
Derbyshire are a large number of lead figures, 
two of which are drawn in 'The Formal 
Garden} There are two heroic sized figures 
of Perseus and Andromeda beside the great 
water ; a Flying Mercury after Giovanni 
Bologna ; two slaves, which are painted black, 
with white drapery, carrying vases on salvers ; 
and several Cupids in pairs or single. Of these 
" the single figures " Mr. Blomfield says " are 

^ Blomfield and Thomas. Macmillan, 1892. 



about two feet high. One has fallen off hts tree, 
another is flying upward, another shooting, 
another shaping his 
bow with a spoke 
shave. All of these 
are painted and some 
covered with stone 
dust to imitate stone, 
a gratuitous insult to 
lead which will turn 
to a delicate silver 
grey if left to its own 

In the old gardens 
at Rousham de- 
scribed by Pope are 
still some Cupids 
riding on swans ; at 
HoImerookHall are 
statues and other 
objects in lead, and 
at Newton Ferrars 
in CornwaJl are two 
statues of Mars and 
Perseus. At the 
Mote House, Her- 
sham, are some gar- 
den figures. 

There are also 
some figures of lead in the gardens of Castle Hill," 
Lord Fortescue's house in Devonshire. Jn the 


two niches of a garden 
temple thci'e is a Cym- 
Player from the 
antique and a Venus in 
the niiinner of William 
and Mary. Amongst the 
foiiage of a wood-path 
is a terminal figure of 
Pan, the pillar being 
stone and the head and 
shoulders only of lead. 
In the gardens here are 
also two large couchant 
lions, four sphinxes, and 
some greyhounds. At 
Nun Moiicton in York- 
shire, on a terrace by the 
Ouse are several 
lead figures on each side 
of the walk:, these have 
Ided trappings. At 
Glemham in Suffolk are 
figures of the Duke of 
Marlborough and Prince 
Eugene at the entrance. 
In the garden are two 
black slaves with sun- 
dials, and 
the Seasons: 
also hounds 
at the gate- 

io8 LEADWORK [sect. 

In the garden at Canons Ashby is a figure of 
a shepherd playing a flute. In a garden at 
Exeter are four 
'.;;r-,, or five figures, 

amongst which 
is a Skater and a 
Flower Girl, and 
at Whitchurch is 
aQuoit Thrower. 
In the niches 
ofa large circular 
yew hedge at 
Hardwick are 
four figures, 
three are playing 
on musical in- 
struments ; pipe, 
trumpet, and 
violin, and the 
fourth represents 
Pmnting. There 
are also two other 
figures in the gar- 
dens At Temple 
chin is a figure of 
Time, hour-glass 
Fi ,6.-Tme '" hand, of which 

a sketch is given. 
The left hand formerly held a scythe, now 
lost. At Shrewsbury is a Hercules, 

The statues in the grounds at Blarney 


celebrated in the " Groves of Blarney " were of 
lead : — 

" There's statues gracing this noble place in 

All heathen Goddesses so fair, 
Bold Neptune, Plutarch and Nicodemus 

All standing naked in the open air." 

These statues were sold by auction to Sir 
Thomas Dene who bought the castle, and 
pictures : — 

" And took off in a cart 

(Twas enought to break my heart) 

All the statues made of lead and pictures O ! " ^ 

The eighteenth century must have been busy 
in the " manufacture " of these garden figures 
and ornaments, some of the gardens mentioned 
have as many as twenty to thirty pieces still. A 
great number was doubtless absorbed in the 
London public gardens and the villas up the 
Thames. In old Vauxhall was a statue of Milton 
by RoubilHac, but it is difficult to attribute many 
specimens to individuals. The negro we saw was 
sold by Mr. John Chere in St. Martin's Lane, 
but likely enough the model was a part of the 
stock of Van Nost, as also the fine vases at Hampton 
Court. Many of these statues were destroyed to 
suit the " purer taste " of this century, and a 
great number were exported during the American 

^ Reliques of Father Prout, i., 140. 

no LEAD WORK [sect. 

War to become bullets, because at that time as 
" works of art " the lead escaped the Customs. 
A large number have been accidentally crushed 
by the fall of a tree or otherwise destroyed, and 
many not adequately supported have flattened 
down out of shape. 

There was a large display h la Louis Quatorze, 
of lead casting in the gorgeous gardens of 
Versailles ; where in the fountains, groups of 
statues, and vases, the greatest sculptors of the 
time worked indiflferently in marble, bronze, or 
plomb dore. Francois Girardon was one of 
these. Born in 1628, at Troyes, he lived to the 
year 1 7 1 5, achieving a reputation that placed him 
amongst the foremost of French artists of that 

The immense structure entirely of lead known 
as the Fountain of the Pyramid is his work. 
From a basin in which sport three man-sized 
tritons rises a pedestal, with a circular basin much 
enriched by gadroons, set on three classic 
zoomorphous legs ; and above it three other 
like basins of diminishing size, each supported 
from the one below around the rim ; by baby 
tritons for the lowest, the next with dolphins, 
and the last with lobsters. In the last basin is a 
vase. The whole is a composition showing great 
refinement of scholarship, recalling in general 
form the great pine cone of bronze in the 
Vatican gardens, once the fountain in the atrium 
of old St. Peter's. It is exquisitely drawn and 


engraved by Rouyer et Darcel ^ together with 
two vases also of lead from the Basin of 

Other groups, some of colossal proportions — 
"France Victorious," " The Four Seasons," and so 
on — were the work of Thomas Renaudin of 
Moulins, J. B. Tubi from Rome, Pierre 
Mazaline and Gaspard de Marcu ; their indi- 
vidual works, with illustrations, may be distin- 
guished in the volume of engraved statues of 
the Versailles gardens by S. Thomassin published 
in Paris 1694. 

Versailles certainly set the fashion, which we 
followed and which influenced the gardens of the 
most of Europe. In Russia a Swiss gardener 
arranged a labyrinth at the summer palace of 
Peter the Great with animal groups from ^sop 
in gilt lead forming fountains. Beckford, 
writing from Lisbon in 1789, describes a garden 
at Bemfila "which eclipses our Clapham and 
Islington villas in all the attractions of leaden 
statues, Chinese temples, serpentine rivers, and 
dusty hermitages." 

^ VArt Arch, en France^ vol. ii. 


NONE of the old English gardens were 
complete without a fountain, and no 
fountain was complete without a 
figure. Bacon says — " For fountains. . . . the 
ornaments of images, gilt or of marble, which 
are in use do well." 

Paul Hentzner writes of the sixteenth century 
garden of Theobalds, the seat of Lord Treasurer 
Burleigh — " There was a summer house, in the 
lower part of which, built semicircularly, are the 
twelve Roman emperors in white marble and a 
table of touchstone (alabaster) the upper part 
is set around with cisterns of lead into which the 
water is conveyed by pipes so that fish may be 
kept in them, and in summer time they are very 
convenient for bathing." 

At St. Fagan's, near Cardiflf", in front of the 
house is a remarkable lead tank ; it is octagonal, 
ten feet across and nearly four feet high ; it is 
ornamented round the sides with flowers, and 
shields in panels, and is dated 1620. 

At Syon House there is a fountain in which a 
lead figure forms the jet d'eau. 


At Wooton in Staffordshire there is a fountain 
basin with a lead duck so suspended as to float on 
the water spouting water from its bill. The 
Swan which seemed to float on the water described 
by Borrow in Lavengro must have been of lead. 
At Sprotborough in Yorkshire are some lead 
toads about nine inches long, which also seem to 
have belonged to a fountain. 

Some of the figures mentioned before stand 
in the centre of basins, and occasionally simple 
groups, as of Neptune in a two-horsed chariot, 
may be found, but we have nothing in England 
to compare to the great fountain compositions 
of the Versailles Gardens or to the fountain 
called Le Buffet in the Trianon Park, designed 
by Mansard, and profusely decorated by the gilt 
lead sculptures of Van Cleve and other artists. 

In Germany some of the earlier town fountains 
are of lead. 



THE vases at Hampton Court mentioned 
above are particularly fine in design and 
well modelled ; their height is about 
2.3 and the little sitting figures, slight as they 
are, are charming in their pose ; the folded arms 
and prettily arranged hair give us a suggestion 
of life which most of these things supposed to be 
in the classic taste lack. The inventory taken 
by the Commission at Hampton Court mentions 
" Fower large flower potts of lead.'' Similar vases 
are in the gardens at Windsor, also larger and 
later examples with figure plaques in Flaxman's 
manner. At Castle Hill, North Devon, there are 
ten vases, some with mouldings and gadroons 
formed in repousse, others cast. 

At Melbourne in Derbyshire there is an enor- 
mous vase some seven or eight feet high in a very 
rococo style.^ There is one at Penshurst, which 
comes from Old Leicester House in London ; and 
at Sprotborough are others of similar design. 
These vases will not bear comparison with the 
beautiful lead Gothic fonts before given. 

' The Formal Garden^ Blomfield and Thomas, 




There are several vases at Wimpole near Cam- 
bridge, at Wilton, and at Wrest. Little square 
flower boxes with cast or repousse devices on the 
sides were also made ; Charles Lamb describes 
some flower pots for us from the gardens of 

Blakesware in Herefordshire, a fine old house, 
destroyed even when he wrote — " The owner of 
it had lately pulled it down ; still ] had a vague 
notion that it could not all have perished. How 


shall they build it up again " ? There was a beauti- 
ful fruit garden and " ampler pleasure garden 
rising backwards from the house in triple terraces, 
with flower pots now of palest lead save that a spot 


here and there saved from the elements bespake 
their pristine state to have been gilt and glittering." 

At Knole are a pair of circular pots figured 
on page 120. Circular baskets of open inter- 
lacing work and other forms were also made. 

Garden seats were also made entirely of lead. 


I20 LEADWORK [sect. 

There are six lead seats at Castle Hill, North 
Devon ; they are large square boxes with heavy 
" classic " forms, the top and ends imitating the 
folds of drapery. At Chiswick similar seats in 
every way were sculptured in stone. These show 
how lead should not be used. 

At Castle Hill are also several greyhounds ; 
they are particularly lively and well modelled and 

suitable for their purpose as guards to the gates. 
Gate piers are most inviting pedestals for leaden 
im^ery. At Albert Gate, Hyde Park, there are 
two beautiful lead sta^s — another pair of them 
are at Loughton in Essex ; no more appropriate 
English park gate could well be thought of. At 
Carshalton, Surrey, where a park was enclosed by 
Thomas Scawen, the great gate pillars of the en- 
trance have large boldly modelled statues of Diana 
andAct£eon,the date 1726. The little Cupids that 



Stand out of the ivy that covers the piers at 
Temple Knsley are sketched in Fig, 53, 

Perhaps the finest gate pier groups are those 

to the Flower Pot Gate at Hampton Court, 
where Cupids uphold a basket of flowers. These 
able pieces of work are not generally known for 
lead, because, like so many figures and vases, 


they have been painted and sanded to imitate 

In 1744 the then member for Southampton 
presented two lions for the Bar Gate in that 
town. These not very beautiful creatures still 

Syon House, on the Thames, has besides the 
great Hon, a lesser Hon set over Adam's " lace 
gateway," weighing a ton and half, it is unfortu- 
nately newly painted and sanded to look like 
stone, and as the tail sticks out in a way utterly 
impossible for anything but metal it makes it 
entirely absurd. There is a plague of p^nt 
over old leadwork, which should be gilt or let 


On the park wall facing the road there are fine 
sphinxes, about five feet long, in every way dif- 
ferent to the lion, well designed exercises in the 
*' classic taste." Well modelled, with impressive 
heads, in the dark and dinted metal, they are 
pleasant both in colour and texture. They are 
quite " Adam's " in character but not at all petty 
like some of his work and very different to a 
pair of sphinxes also of lead, on the gates of 
Chiswdck House. 


THE lead finial is typically a French 
feature ; there cannot be said to be a 
single instance of a large ornamental 
finial of lead remaining in England of the kind 
once so universal in France and of which so 
many still remain there. These French finials 
from the 1 2th to the i8th centuries have been 
sufficiently described, especially by M. De la 
Queriere, who devotes a volume to them and the 
cresting of ridges ; by Viollet-le-Duc ; and in 
De Caumonts's Abcdaire, 

Many of these early French Gothic finials of 
the 1 2th and 13th centuries were lead statues 
formed out of repousse sheet metal and they 
surmounted the culminating point of the church, 
at the apex of the chevet ; here was often 
placed an immense angel with great wings 
turning as vanes in the wind. At Rouen it is 
the Virgin with the infant Christ which stands 
over the Lady Chapel ; there was formerly on 
the main apse a giant St. George horsed and 
spearing the dragon, melted at the Revolution 
"they say" into bullets. At Clermont 
Ferrand is the most remarkable composition, a 


tall pillar on which stands a colossal Virgin 
facing the sunrise ; round the stem spring out 
great branches of foliage on which sit four 
figures — King David with the harp and three 
others with musical instruments — the ridge is 
ornamented with open work, and a length of 
similar, foliage reaches down the slope of the roof 
for some feet on either side of the finial where 
are two other figures, these are full life size, and 
the whole must be 20 or more feet high. 

At Evreux the apse had a St. Michael tread- 
ing down Satan. The immense St. Michael that 
surmounted the central tower at Mont St. 
Michel, which could be seen many leagues out at 
sea, was also probably of lead. 

We had in England in the twelfth century a 
large figure serving as a finial to the central 
tower at Canterbury. This tower was built by 
Lanfranc, and Gervase tells us it was surmounted 
by a gilt angel, this is shown in the contem- 
porary drawing of Canterbury ; and the tower, 
Professor Willis says, ever retained the name of 
the Angel Tower. Stow also told us of a 
lead spire close by St. Paul's with an image of 
St. Paul on the top. 

The early French examples of finials without 
a figure were formed of foliage in repousse on a 
stem or pillar with swelling bands or bowl-like 
forms at the point of growth : these and the 
foliage were beaten out of thick sheet lead, the 
larger forms in two halves and soldered together. 


The central stem was an iron rod covered with 
lead tube slipped over it in short pieces, with 
hooks to hang the branching leaves to ; some- 
times slender rods rise out of the foliage and 
droop with lilies at their extremities. 

Later, cast ornaments became general ; on the 
Hotel Dieu at Beaune is a wonderful series of 
these finials made up of portions partly repousse 
partly cast, these have coronets of delicate open 
work which were cast in strips and bent round. 
Where the finial joins the roof a rayed sun of 
cast metal is placed. Mr. Glutton gives draw- 
ings of these. 

In the Museum at Lille there are two fine 
finials, one of these is carefully analysed to 
a large scale by Burges in his book of drawings 
and the other, wholly made up of castings, is given 
here from a photograph. In the Museum in the 
splendid old hall of the Hotel Dieu at Angers 
are two, sketches of which are given in Figs. 
57 and 58. The leaves and scrolls are cast with 
ribs to make them stifFer. 

The later Gothic and Renaissance finials are 
often charmingly suggestive in the subject of 
their design — some have figures, a huntsman at 
Bourges, a Cupid shooting arrows or a man-at- 
arms ; some are made up with suns or sun and 
moon, or moon and stars, as at Troyes ; at 
Beaune, cup-like forms are made of openwork 
for birds' nests. Again we find a vase of lilies or 
branch of drooping thistles, a pigeon, a coronet^ 



or personal devices and badges. Mr. Burges 
noted how the early poets spoke of the music of 
the vanes, and there can be little doubt that some 
of them were intended to resound to the wind : 
in the Hypnerotomachia (1499) a finial is shown 

with little bells hanging to chains which swang 
against a metal bowl ; Viotlet-le-Duc also tells 
us that in certain crestings he found a singular 
musical conceit in contrivances for producing 
"sifflements" under the action of the wind— 
^olian flutes. 


At Bourges on the Hotels Jacques Coeur and 
Cujas are some finials consisting of little more 
than a lead-covered stick bearing a rod and 

Fig. 59. — Finials, Bourges. 

girouettes. Flags were properly only set up in 
the due heraldic precedence of the proprietor, a 
Knight might fly a pennon and so on ; they were 
centred at times on a piece of agate to reduce the 
friction of revolution. We have only to look at 



[sect. XVII. 

the views of old towns given in manuscripts to 
see how the mediaeval mind delighted in these flag 
finials ; but there are probably not half a dozen 
old ones now left in England. When there are 
many revolving flags to the finials on one 
building and these are bright with new gold, 
they have the delightful property of flashing the 
light to a great distance. The gilt flags on the 
pinnacles of the west front of Wells Cathedral 
twinkle simultaneously against the setting sun. 

Fig. 6o. — From Newcastle. 

Crestings, sometimes large and most orna- 
mental, were formed along the ridges of French 
buildings, especially in the early Renaissance.^ 
These ornamental ridges, especially in this exag- 
gerated form, are not English. 

A row of fleurs-de-lis exists at Exeter, a por- 
tion of which is in the Architectural Museum, 
Westminster : and probably many other roofs 
had similar crestings. 

1 S^e De la Queriere or ViolI^t-l^-Duc {Art. ** Cr6te ";. 


THE use of lead pipes for conducting water 
was introduced into England by the 
Romans, the ordinary draw-ofF tap is 
another gift of theirs. The twelfth century 
plan of Canterbury cathedral shows a remarkable 
system of water pipes for collecting the water 
from the roofs and distributing it to the several 
buildings and fountains. Mr. Micklethwaite has 
described in Archaologia a lead filtering cistern 
with draw-ofF tap found at Westminster Abbey ; 
and in the British Museum (Gothic Room) there 
is a small circular lead cistern with delicate 
fifteenth century ornament. 

Some old country houses preserve the original 
scheme for conducting the rain water from the 
roofs into a lead cistern which, adorned by devices 
and gilding, stood close to the front door. 
Poundisford Park, near Taunton, is one of these. 
Lead spouting, delicately ornamented, crosses 
the front and brings the water to the head of 
the vertical pipe, which has turrets and loopholes 
— a toy castle. This and its pipe stand over a 
circular fronted cistern panelled and modelled 

K 2 


with a crest, pots of flowers, and the date 1671. 
There are some of these cisterns at Exeter ; one 

of them, here given, is much like that at Taunton, 
and is dated 1696 ; the ribs and devices are gilt. 




At Bovey Tracy, in Devonshire, there is another, 
as also at Sackville College, East Grinstead. 

In the London houses of the seventeenth 
and eighteenth centuries, ornamented lead 
cisterns seem to have been generally placed in 
the courtyards and areas. The earliest known 
was illustrated and described in the Builder for 
August 23rd, 1862. The centre was a coat of 

arms quartering the lions of England and the 
lilies of France, right and left two quatrefoil 
panels contained the letters E.R., and below 
in a long panel was the date 15 — . Two upright 
strips formed the margins, which, with the ends, 
were covered with Gothic diaper. It was drawn 
while in the possession of a dealer, who obtained 
it in Crutched Friars. 

There was quite a crusade preached against 




these cisterns, as the occasion of lead poisoning, 
in the first half of this century, and hundreds 
were destroyed, but a large number still remmn ; 
about Bloomsbury quite a dozen may be seen 
down front areas. For the most part they were 

•— '^^^ 

decorated with paneUing of ribs formed of squares 
and semicircles with strips and spots of cast 
ornament, flowers, fruit baskets, st^s, dolphins, 
cherubs' heads, and even the gods Bacchus and 
Ceres ; others have nothing but the fretted panel 
with initials and date like Fig. 63. 



The ribs, with the stock enrichments in new 
combinations, the date and initials, were attached 




i. KeDsibEton Mimum. 

to a wood panel the size of the cistern front ; 
this was moulded in the sand and the casting 

\S6 LEADWORK. [sect, xviil. 

made of good substance ; stout strips were 
soldered across the inside as ties. One of the 
finest known of these • is that at South Kensing- 
ton Museum, of which one half of the front is 
here illustrated, the other half repeats exactly, 
even to the initials on the shield ; the date is 
1732. This is in every way well designed and 
beautifully modelled. A part of one in the 
Guildhall Museum is an darly example of the 
ordinary pattern, dated 1674. 

The ribs for the pattern were formed in lead 
— a plumber disdaining the assistance of wood 
if he could avoid it — by beating strips of lead 
into an iron swage block, that was cut as a 
matrix about four inches long ; these strips 
could be easily bent to the curved lines. Plain 
panelled cisterns like this were made as late as 

Old lead pumps are now very seldom to be 
found. One remains at Wick, Christchurch, which 
is 6 inches in diameter, and is decorated by a 
crest — a boar's head in a wreath — and the initials 
"G. B." as well as the signature "J. Jenkins, 
Plummer, 1797." 


IN England the gutters of important churches 
were generally formed behind the stone 
parapet, but at Lincoln the whole is formed 
of lead above a carved stone cornice. It is about 
two feet high and the outside is decorated with 
foiled circles closer or farther apart with due 

Fic;. 6s.— Gimer, Line 

disregard for precision. In France gutters were 
often like this made on the top of the stone 
cornice ; irons turned up carry a continuous rod, 
over which the lead was dressed, and as the out- 
lets were frequent little fall was required.' 

To some bay windows of a fine old timber 
' See Viollet-le-Duc 

138 LEADWORK [sect. xix. 

house at Derby there are little parapets formed 
out of lead, the front edge being cut into notches 
like a tiny battlement, and short lengths of pipe 
form spouts for the water. At Taunton there is 
a bay window with a similar battlement of lead ; 
this is cast with a running pattern and wavy 
upper edge, to this below is soldered a similar 
strip reversed making a fringe ; the same pattern 
forms the isolated gutters at Poundisford House 

Fig. 66. — Gutter, Taunton. 

above mentioned. At Montacute the spouting 
has a series of little upright panels, the top 
moulding breaking up higher over every alternate 
pair in crenelations, leaving a space filled with 
a boss. At Bramhall there is a cottage to which 
both the spouting and the down pipe have a 
running scroll of flowery ornament. Sometimes 
the end of a roof gutter between two gables is 
stopped by an apron of lead with pattern on it, 
such as a knot of cord and initials. 


THE water was discharged from the gutters 
into the heads of down pipes, or some- 
times from jutting lengths of spout 
supported by iron props, the nozzles cut into a 
form often simulating an animal's jaws. 

The down pipes are particularly English, 
nowhere else can the ornate constructions of lead 
forming the pipe heads of Haddon and other 
great houses of the sixteenth century be matched. 
According to Viollet-le-Duc, here in England this 
arrangement was already in use in the fourteenth 
century, when nowhere except in England were 
these lead pipes from the roof down to the base 
of the wall known. He also remarks on the 
advantage of these being square as they can ex- 
pand if required when the water freezes, while a 
circular pipe can only burst. ^ Fragments of 
pierced work in Gothic patterns which formed 
parts of pipe heads have been found at Fountains 

At Haddon there are a great number of these 
pipe heads of several dates, and every one is dif- 
ferent from the rest ; some are plain and small, 

1 Art. ♦♦Conduite,"Fig. 6. 

others great spreading things elaborately decor- 
ated. The genera! form of these is constructed 

like a box from cast sheet lead, the cornices are 
beaten to their shape over a pattern ; and the top 

i+z LEADWORK [sect. 

edgd is cut into a little fringe of crenel lations. 
Cast discs of ornament, badges, pendant knobs, 
and initials are arranged on their fronts, on the 

funnel-shaped portion leading to the pipe, and on 
the ears of the pipe and the side flaps of the head 
itself. The more elaborate heads have an outer 


casing of lead with panels pierced through it of 
delicate tracery work of Gothic tradition which 
shows bright against the shadow. 

At Windsor Castle some pipe heads bear the 
date 1 589, the Tudor rose, and the letters E. R. 

At Knole there are also many heads having 
pierced work of this kind in panels, and project- 
ing turrets ; some of these also have a decoration 
of bright solder applied to the lead in patterns — 

1+4 LEAD WORK [sect. 

these were made about 1600. At the Bodleian 
and St. John's College, Oxford, there is a fine 
series of pipe heads with painted patterns. At 
Norham Castle some pipe heads are dated 1605. 
Abbot's Hospital at Guildford has a large series 
of heads later in character than those at Haddon, 

Here pierced work is used as a brattishing to the 
top edge of the fronts ; they are signed G. A. and 
dated 1627. At Canons Ashby there is a pair 
of most rococo pipe heads, with applied pierced 
castings, masks and acanthus leaves.' These heads 
are fixed on iron cramps, or brackets ; at Haddon 

' Figured in ihe Spring Gardens Sketch Book, vol t., 58, 


lead cylinders with pierced ends project and carry 
the heads. 

Sometimes the heads are very long, extending 
five or six feet like a length of gutter ; it was a 
favourite method to decorate them with salient 
projections at intervals, like the cut-waters of a 
bridge, the top edge of these is cut into little 
battlements which were curled over in loops. 

The projections make convenient birds' nests. 
. The pipe is sometimes central to these long 
heads but often at the end. 

Entirely the reverse of these, other heads are 
tall in proportion, like the examples at Shrewsbury 
and Ludlow or the little fiddle pattern design 
given here from the Grammar School at Sherborne 




(Fig. 73). The two examples 74 and 75 are from 
Liverpool and Ashbourn. 

There are three or four original pipe heads 
which are well designed in the Architectural 

The later ones, as in London, are often tall 
square funnels moulded and bent into vase-like 
forms, the projection was small compared to the 
width, only three or four inches sometimes. A 

Fig. 75. — Ashbourne. 

piece of projecting pipe is at times inserted in the 
front of the head to serve as an overflow. The 
late pipes were circular and the heads very often 
followed this form. 

The material has an appropriateness for this 
purpose that cast iron cannot pretend to ; a simple 
square box of lead and round pipe is much to be 
preferred to fussy things in cast iron, they will 
not require painting, nor do they fill the drains 




with rust ; and although it has been necessary to 
draw the elaborate and eccentric forms, the 
simpler ones form better models for our pur- 

The earlier pipes were almost always a flat 
square, sometimes ornamented up its whole length, 
but usually only at the collars, where the bands of 

Fig. 76. — Haddon. 

lead for attachment to the wall were placed, here 
and on the flaps of the collars are often crests, 
flowers, or letters. The lead band was cut long 
enough, so that after the nails had been driven 
through it into the wall the ends were folded 
back over their heads. Those at Canons Ashby, 
Northants, have the ends curled and cut like the 
scroll of a mediaeval text. 

148 LEADWORK [sect. XX. 

Lead working as an art for the expression of 
beauty through material, with this ancestry of 
nearly two thousand years of beautiful work- 
manship behind it here in England, has in the 
present century been entirely killed out. Only 
one simple present use of lead can be mentioned 
as having the characteristic of an art — the ex- 
pression of personal thought by the worker to 
give pleasure. This is nothing but the lining of 
stairs and floor spaces with sheet lead nailed with 
rows of copper nails, some examples of which are 
done with a certain taste. Pipe heads and other 
objects of a somewhat ornamental kind have 
recently been made again, but we must remember 
that ornament is not art, and these have only 
been carefully, painfully, " executed " to the archi- 
tect's drawings. The plumber's art, as it was, for 
instance, when the Guild of Plumbers was formed, 
a craft to be graced by the free fancy of the 
worker, is a field untilled. That someone may 
again take up this fine old craft of lead- working 
as an artist and original worker,refusing to follow 
"designs" compiled by another from imperfectly 
understood old examples, but expressing only 
himself — this has been my chief hope in pre- 
paring the little book NOW CONCLUDED. 

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